Building tips: energy saving measures at home

I’m planning on building a new house, but I’m a little overwhelmed with the various energy efficiency measures to add to the house.

I would like to add solar panels and some friends said that an air to water pump saves a lot on cost.

Are these items difficult to install? When designing the house, what should you take into account?

Sarah, Rathcormac

HI Sarah,

Thank you for your excellent question and I am delighted to hear that you are considering energy saving measures in your new home very early on, this is indeed very important.

When designing new homes, we like to understand what renewables a client is considering very early in the design process, as all of these measures need to be implemented in your new home and other considerations may be necessary in terms of waterproofing. air, electrical requirements, ductwork. races etc.

Kieran McCarthy: “It’s good to understand what renewables a customer is considering very early in the design process.

So what are the key elements available here and what should you take into account? Let’s take a look at them one by one.


Air to water is a renewable heat source where heat is taken from the air outside your home and channeled to your heating elements and your hot water tank in your home, it is very efficient and just uses a small amount of electricity to run the system and pump that hot water.

An air-to-water unit will have an indoor unit which is often located in a utility room and an outdoor unit which is located nearby outdoors, so it is clear that the space for these items should be considered from the start of the process. your design.

Mechanical ventilation:

There are basically two options here. On-demand ventilation removes water vapor and a variety of other gases from your wet rooms and, during this process, draws in the cool outside air through your window vents. This unit is often located in a closet or in your attic. There are air ducts to wet rooms (kitchen, utility room, WC) but these are generally manageable.

The second option is heat recovery ventilation. This unit removes stale (warm) air from all your living rooms and replaces it with fresh air from outside, but in doing so, transfers heat from the stale air to the new fresh air so that you do not do not lose heat in winter. You will need a lot more ducts because now most of the rooms will be affected, so you have to think about how you are going to route these ducts through the void on the first floor. This type of ventilation will also require a lower level of air tightness, so you will need to design it.

Photovoltaic solar panels:

These are different from solar panels of the past in that they generate electricity from sunlight. I find they are great when installed in a house with an air-to-water system, as they generate electricity, which feeds the air into the water. Photovoltaic cells need a significant southerly elevation on your roof to access sunlight, and you will need structural supports (or “floors”) inside. You will also need to provide a series of pipes which will have to be brought back to your main “fuse” board.

There are other measures such as rainwater harvesting in which a rainwater tank should be installed outside so that you can recycle rainwater from your roofs. heat from the shower drain water. You will of course need to make sure that you have adequate levels of insulation, air tightness and anti-cold bridge measures in place for some of these items and indeed for the overall compliance and comfort of your new. house and it is best to consider and design them from the start. as possible.

So, you can see that modern new homes are much more than four walls and a roof over your head, but these energy saving devices, although they come at a considerable upfront cost, allow you to save a lot of money in the long run and cut costs on your new home. impact on the environment as well as your comfort and enjoyment at home, especially during the long cold winter nights when the fresh summer air is only a distant memory.

  • Civil Engineer Kieran McCarthy is the Founder and Director of Design and Construction of KMC Homes. He is co-presenter of RTÉ, ‘Inexpensive Irish Houses ”.

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