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Energy efficiency in a time of recession? Keep it low tech

Over the last few years, we have become increasingly obsessed with gadgets that are supposed to get us nearer to sustainable sanctity, so much so that we almost have forgotten the basic rules of bioclimatic design.

So here are ten, low cost, tips on how to save energy:

  1. Keep the designs compact! Quadruple height spaces, huge receptions, large corridors use energy and space – small is (also) beautiful;
  2. Insulate, insulate, insulate – walls, roofs, floor, services, everything that deserves it;
  3. Get the detailing right – zap air leakage and thermal bridging out of the equation;
  4. Place the windows where they should be – for residential south is best, skylights and north windows are worst, and higher windows bring more daylight;
  5. Narrow plans give good natural ventilation and daylight (less than 15m for double sided windows)
  6. Refine the internal layout - segregate high heat gain spaces such as printer rooms; locate spaces that benefit from daylight in areas where this can best be achieved
  7. Keep the gadgets simple. Gizmos often mean cost, risk and maintenance, but sometimes do wonders –for example good lighting control systems. Apply the wartime rule ‘is your gizmo really necessary’?
  8. Cost your options early, it really is worth doing it;
  9. Make informed decisions - compare green options in terms of the improvement they bring;
  10. And finally, use common sense.

Neither the AJ nor the author accept any responsibility for the views expressed in this column. Readers should seek their own professional advice

Readers' comments (1)

  • Quite. Good design comes at very low cost compared with festooning our buildings with eco-gadgetry.
    Aurore pointed out in an earlier article that, per dollar invested, insulating properly saves 30 times as much CO2 as installing PV.
    Keep it simple.

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