‘A real energy conscious interior design is the designing and planning of interior spaces and specifying suitable materials with the aim of reducing energy consumption in a building while improving comfort, health or aesthetics. With the cost of gas, oil and electricity on the rise, it only makes sense to wonder about alternative energy sources for any building’, says S Gangadharan
An energy efficient interior space is something we should all strive for. Not only can small steps be taken to lighten the CO2 foot prints, we leave behind for future generations, but these same steps can save a bunch of money on your utility bills, something as simple as changing a light bulb can make a dramatic difference in the energy efficiency and cost savings within your interior space. A real energy conscious interior design is the designing and planning of interior spaces and specifying suitable materials with the aim of reducing energy consumption in a building while improving comfort, health or aesthetics. With the cost of gas, oil and electricity on the rise, it only makes sense to wonder about alternative energy sources for any building.
Natural ventilation has become an increasingly attractive method for reducing energy use and cost and for providing acceptable indoor environmental quality and maintaining a healthy, comfortable and productive indoor climate rather than the approach of using mechanical ventilation. It is useful to think this system as a circuit, with equal consideration given to supply and exhaust. Well placed windows, louvers, grills, air holes and open plans are the right ways to complete the airflow circuit through a building. Furniture design should enhance air circulation, and furniture placement should allow no blockage of air flow within the building. Wherever privacy is required, instill louvers above door level in homes, and low height partitions in commercial spaces.
Selecting the right choice of flooring material is a big task as it has to have the capability for maintaining the ideal temperature level in the indoor in any climatic condition. With the availability of different flooring options, sometimes, it gets difficult to choose the best amongst them. Whether you choose the wooden floor, vitrified tile, marble, granite, laminated floor, terracoata tile or any other flooring material, the decision shall be influenced by the climatic condition of the particular location.
Paint choice could help conserve energy. The lightness or darkness of a colour affects whether it can absorb or reflect heat and light. Generally, light values tint of a hue such as beige, pink or cream are used to reflect heat from a light weight thermal mass such as furniture or ceilings to a more efficient mass that stores the heat, such as a brick wall. The use of light values to reflect heat can be balanced by dark value colours on the thermal mass. Try light colour walls and dark colour furniture. And the colour used in a room can make you feel warmer or cooler. Generally, reds, oranges and yellows are considered warm colours. These would be used where the actual room temperature is cooler, such as rooms located near trees where there is no direct sunlight heat. Greens, blues and violets should be used in rooms which are most exposed to sunlight. Try dark colour walls and light colour furniture. But large area of dark colour required you to use more energy from light bulbs to achieve the same effect. So, limit the dark colour area. Green wall are another fresh inspiring element in green thought.
The lightest way to start cutting down monthly bill is through lighting. Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs and the latest LED bulbs to suitable spaces. Natural daylight is the greenest way to illuminate any space. This can be achieved through strategically placed windows and skylights, but not every space has the same direct access to the sun. Increased natural daylight can be achieved with mirrored devices that redirect the sun’s rays from the lawn or garden into the room. Both of these options are a great way to add light to any dark room, but neither option works after the sun goes down. When selecting a curtain fabric, remember to view large sample drapes as they would appear when made up and with the light behind the material. Going solar is a great option. Not only they prove to be less costly, they leave no carbon trace. Energy rated home appliances are another unavoidable and most necessary tool in the energy saving process.
Bathrooms and kitchen are places with maximum energy demands and highest water usage. Everytime when power and water bills come, we wonder why they are so high and how to reduce them. Water wastage occurs by letting water run while brushing teeth, continually running toilet water, leaky taps, etc. Today, there are fancy options available for futuristic faucets. Waste-not sensor taps, touch-sensitive water faucets, sensor soap dispensers, and also faucets with aerators. Low-flow show heads are another great way to use less water. They may save as much as 50 per cent water compared to standard shower heads. Having natural plants in the bathroom isa good idea. They take the carbon-di-oxide and keep the air fresher and cleaner. They add to the aesthetics and are lovely and refreshing to look.
Perform an energy audit. This key step is to determine the improvements required for home as each house is different. The professional energy auditor should do a room-by-room examination of the residence, as well as a thorough examination of past utility bills.
Few tips to save the energy bills:
- Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when fully loaded. Few loads reduce energy and water use.
- Reduce air conditioning costs by using fans, keeping windows and doors open. Most ceiling fans use less energy than a light bulb.
- Enable power management on all computers and make sure to turn them off at night.
- When possible, wash clothes in cold water. About 90 per cent of the energy used in a clothes washer goes to water heating.
- Unplug electronics, battery chargers and other equipment when not in use. Taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator
- Clean or replace filters atleast once a month. Dirty filters make your system work harder and run longer than necessary. Provide shade outside air-conditioning units. An A/C unit shaded by trees or other means work more efficiently and up to 10 per cent less electricity. Keep debris and high glass away from the condenser; these obstacles block the air-flow to the unit. Blockage makes the corner work harder and run longer. Use door-stopper for your doors as this will help to avoid air leak while opening the door.
- Extra electricity used by home electronics is consumed while ‘off’. By using a power strip and switching off when not in use, you lessen CO2 emissions and reduce your energy bills.