Designing energy-efficient homes

Published: February 15, 2023
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It’s no secret that energy costs are on the rise. And as the weather gets colder, some families go without heating to save money. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s also a wake-up call: our houses are some of the least energy efficient and poorly insulated in Europe.

So how can we help people keep warm on a budget in the future? And how can we do that while also accounting for increasingly hot summers?

Here are some ways to improve energy efficiency.

Passive solar design

Passive solar design refers to the practice of orienting a building and its windows to maximise the amount of solar heat gain during the winter while minimising it during the summer. It also emphasises the use of natural light.

By having more than half the windows facing south, a house can harness the sun’s warmth during the cold months and reduce the need for heating.

However, southern-oriented windows can quickly overheat a space when summer comes along. In this situation, proper shading and ventilation can help regulate indoor temperature and avoid overheating, preserving the energy efficiency benefits. These will also help you avoid issues like condensation and black mould.

The glazing material used for windows should be selected based on its ability to admit solar heat while blocking infrared radiation to ensure that the interior is comfortable. 

The use of double or triple-paned windows, Low-E (low emissivity) coatings, and shading devices can all reduce heat loss in winter and overheating in the summer.

A well-insulated building envelope

The building envelope refers to the physical separator between the interior and exterior of a building, consisting of a wall system, roof, foundation, windows, and doors. 

A well-insulated building envelope helps to reduce heat transfer, making the home more energy efficient by maintaining a stable indoor temperature and reducing heating and cooling costs.

In a nutshell, you must ensure your windows and walls don’t leak moisture or lose heat. 

The right kind of wall insulation has to incorporate the following layers: a rain screen (for water control), an air barrier layer, insulation for thermal control, and a vapour control barrier. All of these elements are important in ensuring an adequately insulated envelope.


A thoughtfully arranged garden can improve the visual appeal of your property and lower the cost of heating and cooling.

It all depends on how you position your trees, shrubs, or vines. Proper placement can provide shading, block wind, direct the sun towards south-facing windows and reduce energy consumption.

By strategic landscaping, it’s possible to decrease energy usage by as much as a quarter of a typical household’s total consumption.

Going small

Going for a smaller house has many advantages when designing an energy-efficient home. First, smaller homes have a smaller heating and cooling load, which means lower energy costs. The smaller the space, the less energy it takes to maintain a comfortable temperature, which translates to lower utility bills.

Smaller homes typically also have a higher overall energy efficiency because the walls and roof make up a more significant proportion of the total area. This means more insulation can be installed in a smaller home, reducing energy loss.

And let’s not forget, building a smaller home requires fewer building materials and financial resources, which means more opportunities to invest in the right kind of insulation.

Final thoughts

While there isn’t one system that works for everything, by considering the location of your house, energy needs, and budget, you can create a well thought out strategy that incorporates everything you need for your home to be as efficient as possible. 

For support with your paperwork, get in touch with Multiproject.