An Eco-house is an environmentally-friendly low-impact home designed and built using materials and technology that reduces its carbon footprint and lowers its energy needs. This includes: Better than normal levels of insulation Better than normal levels of daylight Good or double-triple-glazed windows Passive solar orientation – glazing oriented south for light and heat Thermal energy in solar thermal energy (HVAC)
Buildings use up huge amounts of energy. Some calculations make it as much as 70% of all the energy used in the UK when all the factors are taken into account. This energy is mainly for heating and lighting and is the most important of all.
Increasing the amount of insulation is the main component of preventing energy loss. This includes draft exclusion, glazing, wall and roof insulation.
In the northern hemisphere, a south facing site will be much better than a north facing site because of access to sunlight and protection from the cold northerly wind. An eco-house starts life facing the sun. Ideally the site for the house should have a south westerly aspect and be protected from the north and east. It is not always possible to do this, but it is usually possible to take advantage of the passive solar gain by having more glazing on the front of the building. Planting trees and creating windbreaks on the north and east sides of the site can be enhanced by solar energy. Having faced the house towards the sun, you can use it as much as you can.
Orientation towards the sun also means that solar panels can be installed, both solar water heating panels and electricity generating solar panels on the roofs, further adding to the heat and electricity from the sun.
Living in the house also generates heat. Active human beings can produce as much heat as a bar electric fire. Add to this heat from cooking, washing, lights etc. and you can get to see how an eco-house could get too hot. Conventionally opening the windows reduces heat, but an eco-house could include heat recovery ventilation systems.
These systems extract the warm, moist air of bathrooms and kitchens and take the heat out of the stale, damp air before venting it outside. The heat recovery system transfers this heat to fresh air coming into the building and distributes it to the bedrooms and living rooms. Fresh air, at room temperature. An added benefit is that filters can be fitted to the air to provide a barrier to pollen or other irritants.
With the passive and active solar gains, insulation, draft proofed building shell and heat recovery system, eco-houses could be zero heat, that is, in theory, you should not need to keep pumping heat into a central heating system. In practice life is not like that. Kids leave the door open, come and go, go out all day, cold snaps happen and some people like to sleep with the open window. An eco-house can be used to design a heating system that can react quickly and efficiently to any of the following temperatures.
Other benefits of an eco-house, are a healthy living environment. The heat recovery system can eliminate dampness and the molds that are so often a health hazard. The air intake filters and the interior of the room and the interior of the room and the roofs of the room (by the dust collection bag and filter) to the outside, thus no microscopic particles of dust in the house . Load bearing internal walls are minimized to allow rearrangements of the interior spaces, and the build technology is such that local trades can carry out alterations and easy maintenance. For the health of the householder, and the planet, an eco-house should be built
One of the following issues of energy efficiency is the embodied energy within the construction materials. (Embodied energy is the energy taken up with producing and transporting the materials used).
Wood is a primary building material for eco-housing. This is because they grow, they produce oxygen, they absorb CO2, they provide a wild life habitat, they can be replanted, they can be sourced locally, the timber can easily be put to some other use after a building is demolished.
Cement is a very useful building material and there are places where we have to be practical and use it. However, one alternative to cement is lime. Lime has been used as a building material for years of energy and CO2 is used in its production and it is often used in the process.
There are also the use of materials, particularly bricks, slates and roof tiles, to make use of the embodied energy within these materials. This can also help new buildings to blend in with their surroundings.