It pays to have smart home plans

Smart home designs can help home owners save hundreds of ringgit a year on utilities.

In the current economic climate, home owners are advised to invest their renovation budget in smart designs for long-term savings, Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) trainer Anthony Lee said.

“Get your building inspected by a professional and he can tell you the flaws of the structure as well as recommend some cost-saving designs that will help you save on water and electricity.

“Reducing your consumption of water and electricity is not only good for the pocket but also the environment,” he said, adding that a good design could keep the home cool on hot days and warm on cold days.

“Energy-saving, smart designs take into consideration climate conditions, site orientation, location of the rooms in the house, building materials and construction techniques.

“Natural features of the surrounding areas are also factors of consideration. For example, slopes, existing trees, nearby waterways and the view will determine the design of the home,” he explained.

Lee noted that one simple technique is to design the roof and porch to block the sun’s rays, hence reducing the need for air conditioning.

Having the kitchen and living areas face the sunlight will also reduce lighting cost.

“Zoning your home will enable you to close off unused areas so you won’t need air conditioning. Good circulation will also lower temperatures indoors.

“Another important factor in saving energy is home insulation. By using materials with high thermal mass like brick or rammed earth, you can block off heat from the afternoon sun better than a glass window can,” he said, adding that glass was a low thermal mass.

He noted that building an awning, tinting the glass and planting trees outside the glass partition could be an alternative to replacing the glass panel with a brick wall.

Recommending that home owners build tanks to collect rain water, Lee said the homes could be designed to direct the flow of rain water into the tank.

“The water collected can be used for gardening, washing and even drinking and cooking if you have the right filtration system,” he said. - The Star

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