Attractive options for energy-efficient house design

Vanessa Howard of Roof Maker explores how taking a rigorously ecological approach to design can improve energy efficiency without compromising on aesthetics and individuality, focusing on rooflights


n 2017 the average UK household spent £102 per month on electricity and gas, accounting for nearly 5 per cent of the UK’s average household budget. As energy costs continue to increase

across the UK, many self-builders and renovators are using the process of building their own home as an opportunity to create the most sustainable and thermally efficient property possible. Influenced by the increasing popularity of designing to the Passivhaus standard, many housebuilders are being inspired to adopt an ecological approach to their home’s design in order to dramatically reduce energy use and carbon emissions, simultaneously supporting and improving the property’s ongoing health. This method of building also provides high standards of living comfort by producing excellent indoor air quality.

SO, WHAT IS PASSIVHAUS? Passivhaus is a global standard that was first developed in the early 1990s in Germany. It supports the construction of truly energy efficient buildings that minimise ‘heating demand’ by using energy sources from inside the property, such as the body heat from residents or solar heat that enters through windows. This means traditional heating equipment is no longer considered essential, as thermal comfort can be achieved solely by ‘post-heating’ or ‘post-cooling’ the natural air found within the home. Buildings that meet the Passivhaus standard have low heating demands of less than 15 kWh per square metre per year, helping to reduce annual fuel costs and offer a more sustainable approach to heating. This makes an attractive proposition for many self-builders as their

september/october 2018

energy usage can be significantly reduced. However, some individuals may not want to commit to the demanding process of creating an accredited Passivhaus home, but its sustainable principles provide an ideal blueprint with which to reduce energy costs and improve overall air quality. One specific area self-builders should focus on when trying to improve the thermal efficiency of their new home is their choice and application of glazing. The current trend for bringing the outdoors in, or maximising on the amount of natural light that can enter the property, has seen an abundance of self-build properties featuring bi-fold doors and rooflights in main living areas such as kitchens, dining areas and living rooms. However, glazing is often where high

proportions of heat transfer can occur, making it potentially detrimental to the

Self-builders shouldn’t feel they’re having to compromise on aesthetics for greater thermal efficiency

energy efficiency of a home. For rooflights in particular, it’s vital that individuals choose products that have been specifically designed to maximise thermal performance as horizontal glass 37

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