12 Tips for Energy efficient house construction in Kerala
When it comes to an energy efficient house construction in Kerala, implementation options seems to be never ending. Switching to solar energy as the primary power source and installation of 5-star rated energy saving equipment are just some of them. At Viya, we believe in delivering 100% energy efficient buildings and not just a few aspects of it.
Read on to understand a few tips that we follow at Viya for energy efficient house construction in Kerala.
Increase the efficiency of building envelope
Building envelope is the boundary between the interior and exterior of the building. Walls, roofs, ceiling, floors, windows and doors put together forms the structure of building envelope. This framework is responsible for efficient lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation of the house. Because of which, one third of the energy requirement of the house is determined by building envelope. The following tips can help increase the efficiency of the building envelope
- reducing air leakage by providing flawless insulation,
- air sealing through effective air barrier systems,
- cool /green roofing or reflective coated roofing,
- Subterranean air tunnels and
- Planting shady trees
Such a building remains hospitable for longer period of time even at the event of blackout.
Use Solar Panels
Solar energy is a renewable energy and sunlight is available for most part of the year in Kerala. A network of solar panels, each measuring 1.1 x 1.2m can be kept on the roof of the building. The photo voltaic cells inside these solar panels capture solar energy that can be fed into a battery bank. This stored electrical energy can be used for the power needs in the building, thus reducing the requirement of external electrical from KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board). Indeed, solar energy is an alternative power source as 1KVA of solar electricity can provide a back up of 4 hours, depending on the appliances connected to backup.
Passive Solar building design
Well, there is much more than active solar solutions (like solar panels) that directly make use of solar energy. Passive solar building design refers to providing appropriate orientation, insulation and shading in building design with reference to solar path. This enhances the lighting and ventilation there by reducing the installation of supplementary equipments. Ample insulation and shading brings down the heat built up in the building, thus reducing cooling requirements too. At Viya Constructions, we have experienced a power requirement reduction of 10% (on an average) by implementing passive solar architecture in our designs.
Use Solar Water Heater
A solar water heater uses a solar thermal collector to convert sunlight to heat energy for water heating. For all water heating needs, especially in the bathrooms and kitchen, installing solar water heater can unimaginably cut down the electricity meter bills. Certainly, higher dependency on solar water heaters equates to higher energy efficiency.
Like solar energy, biomass is another way to generate carbon neutral energy. Biomass is a fuel generated from organic materials like dried leaves, twigs, wood, residue from timber mills, agricultural remains etc. This fuel is renewable and sustainable (as organic waste will continue to exist) and leave less carbon footprint as they are not fossil fuels. Often at Viya, we recommend biomass gasifiers.
A biogas plant using kitchen waste or food waste (including leftover food, uncooked food, used tea powder, milk products etc) is ideal for houses with smaller consumption. Proper segregation of kitchen waste is critical because kitchen wastes like egg shells, bones, onion peels, coconut shell and coir can be harmful for the efficient functioning of biogas plant.
Like the saying ‘every penny saved is equivalent to one earned’; saving every drop of water is huge in terms of making your home energy efficient. Using water faucets that release water slowly, opting for efficient leakage free bath fittings and recycling water for domestic utilities are the most prominent water conserving ideas implemented by builders in Kerala.
Reverse and recycling of waste building materials
Material Conservation refers to using recycled materials or materials that use renewable energy. Use of natural materials like lime plaster and terracotta floors help to reduce the energy required to process and manufacture synthetic counterparts.
Likewise, opting for recycled steel instead of new steel reduces 75% of the energy required to produce new steel. Why because, the steel used in construction has a longer life than the building itself. So quite often, the steel bars remain usable after the demolition of the building. With some processing, recycled steel can be produced which is as good as new.
Similarly, concrete rubble from demolition or renovation sites can be recycled to form crushed concrete. This environmental friendly recycled concrete can be used as gravel for new constructions, thus cutting down the cost.
Furthermore, to build the walls, hollow concrete blocks are excellent to reduce the heat. Similarly, for a glass rich house design, checking the U-value of the glass material will enable you select the one that transfers less heat through the windows. So in a nutshell, material conservation reduces the energy demand for the energy efficient house construction in Kerala.
Insulating the roofs stops the penetration of radiant heat from warmer outdoors to cooler indoors. This will help to maintain comfortable temperature inside of the house, thereby reducing the need of air conditioners. Providing a layer of insulating material under the roof an help achieve loft insulation or thermal insulation. The commonly used insulation materials for energy efficient house construction in Kerala are polystyrene foam boards and durable aluminium foils.
Use LED Lights
Lighting needs contributes to the major chunk of energy requirements of a building. Compared to incandescent bulbs and CFLs, LED Lights emits less heat, uses less wattage and lasts longer. LED lights are durable and use 2-17 watts of electricity which is around 1/3rd of that used by CFLs and 1/30th of that used by incandescent bulbs. Clustering LED lights encased with diffuser lenses helps to spread light in wider beams for every lighting need, while consuming less electricity.
Reduce Energy Consumption and improve building performance
Reducing the energy requirement for heating, cooling and water heating can help in reduction of energy consumption. Choosing 5 star rated appliances brings down the energy consumption to optimum. Additionally, reducing the number of lighting fixtures without affecting the ambience of room is an ideal way to reduce energy consumption. All these will in turn improve building performance by reducing the maintenance cost, providing comfort for occupants, and enhances the property value.
Design sunshade to reduce heat building
Falling in a tropical climate, sunshade forms an integral component in the construction of energy efficient house in Kerala. Sunshade controls the amount of direct sunlight entering the building through windows. By designing sunshades for east and west facing windows, the direct sunlight entering can be minimized and hence reduce the heat building. This will essentially avoid oblique heat penetration during the peak heat hours from 10 am to 3 pm.
Orientation according to wind and sunlight
Planning the building according to solar orientation and prevailing wind direction goes a long way in improving the energy efficiency of a building. At Viya, we design building whose longer walls face east-west direction, to reduce the heat gain through walls. We avail the help of a sun path diagram to calculate the solar gain on the building throughout the year. Suitable openings on the wall of building including windows provides ample day light and facilitates ventilation.
Energy efficient building construction may take an extra while and may cost you more. But in the long run the wait and money will prove to be worthwhile.
If you are looking for help with your energy efficient house construction in Kerala, please feel free to contact us for a free quote.