Your First Home
24th July 2016
Planning out your new home? Going green can save you money and help you do your bit for the environment. OurWedding explores the ways in which you can turn your home greener and more energy efficient.
The modern household uses a variety of appliances to perform daily functions which could wreak havoc on the environment, but today, efficiency ratings and Energy Guide labels are there to help you choose the most efficient models of refrigerators, washing machines and everything in between. Apart from these ratings, certain features can also alert you to your appliances’ efficiency. When it comes to washing machines for example, top loading machines are not as efficient as front loaders, both in terms of energy and water use. Meanwhile, top freezer models outperform side-by-side models in the efficiency stakes, while partial automatic or manual defrost models are more efficient than fully-automatic defrosters. As for dishwashers, many offer features that improve energy efficiency, including booster heaters and no-heat drying, while it is also important to note how much water is required by each model when making your green selection!
One of the main things to keep in mind before purchasing apertures for your home is energy efficiency, as well as the different types, styles and treatments available. The main materials for apertures in Malta are generally wood, aluminium and PVC.
Wood apertures are traditional and attractive, however, while wood does not conduct cold or allow condensation, it can shrink, swell, or rot over time. Aluminium, on the other hand, is virtually immune to moisture and rot, and is common due to its reasonable price. It is durable but perhaps not the best insulator, and the metal can expand and contract during temperature changes. PVC apertures are another great option due to the low level of maintenance they require as well as their green credentials. High-quality PVC makes for a great insulator, resists condensation, and will not distort when exposed to extreme heat or cold.
Other factors to consider are energy-efficient solutions such as double or triple-glazed windows, which provide additional insulation and significant energy savings. Another option is a thermal break or barrier, which reduces or prevents the flow of thermal energy and sound transmittance. Additionally, reflective film helps reduce glare and heat gain.
Green air conditioning
Cooling or heating your home using an air conditioning system need not be harmful to the environment, with green air conditioning becoming more widespread as ozone-depleting refrigerants are phased out in order to meet new government regulations. Apart from the absence of these refrigerants, a number of technological innovations are also doing their bit to make AC units greener. These include two-stage compressors which automatically compress less on cool days and more when in higher temperatures; customised systems based on a home’s individual needs; geothermal heat pumps which use the earth as a heat sink, capitalising on the natural flow of heat; and programmable thermostats that allow you to program the thermostat to remain off when no one is at home and automatically turn it on when it’s time for you to return.
Photovoltaic systems use solar cells to capture the sun’s rays and convert that energy into electricity. Installing such a system in your home allows you to generate electricity in a clean, reliable, and quiet way that can offset the cost of future electricity costs and decrease your dependence on the national energy grid. As has been the case for a handful of years now, a new photovoltaic grant scheme has once again been announced by Government for 2016. The grant covers 50 per cent of the total eligible expenditure up to a maximum of €2,300 or €757/kWp (whichever is the lowest). The grant should really serve as a further boost for you to consider installing a PV system for a truly green home.
Solar water heaters work double duty as an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home. These heaters work by converting sunlight into renewable energy for heating water using a solar thermal collector, comprising various technologies that are being increasingly used worldwide. While different types of solar heating systems are available, most are designed to deliver hot water to your home throughout the year – yet while the high levels of sunshine the Maltese Islands are blessed with should guarantee hot water on the vast majority of days, in winter there sometimes may not be sufficient solar heat gain to deliver a steady supply of hot water. In this case, a supplementary gas or electric booster is recommended.