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Housing : June 2009
Environment Feature bsustainably uilding There are a growing number of products to help build energy efficient homes. Housing looks at some options. T he federal government’s commitment to provide $3.8 billion for an energy efficient homes program is a welcome commitment to the environment and to the housing industry. The environmental benefits of the insulation component alone are substantial, and the ultimate savings on energy bills for householders will equate to hundreds of dollars per year. Insulation Insulation is an important factor in a home’s thermal performance and a key component in achieving energy efficiency. It comes in many forms: ceiling and wall batts (fibreglass and polyester), foil boards, anti-glare foils, polyweave foils, bubble foils, foil-faced blankets and cellulose products. Insulation products are rated according to their ability to restrict the flow of heat or cold through the product (R-value). The higher the R-value of the product, the greater the resistance to this flow.When combined with other construction materials, this achieves a combined Rvalue, whether for the walls, floors or ceiling. Building regulations set minimum R-values for different climatic zones. Other products which contribute to the improved energy efficiency of a home include fluorescent lighting, some lightweight construction products, and insulating glass units (IGUs). Lighting Downlights using either fluorescent or halogen lamps are becoming a popular inclusion in homes. Energy efficient lighting is essential in new building design – particularly given that incandescent lamps will be phased out by 2010. Fluorescent lamps use 70 per cent less electricity than incandescent lamps to provide the same light.A 20-watt compact fluorescent lamp, which can be used in downlight fittings, provides the same amount of light as a 100-watt incandescent and will last 6000–8000 hours. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) can also be used in downlight fittings. IGUs Glass, and the size of windows, is an important consideration when it comes to energy efficiency and the transfer of heat and cold. Using insulated glass units (IGUs) – also known as double glazing – with low-emissivity (low-e) glass on a north elevation, will dramatically improve insulation compared to single clear glazing. At the same time IGUs will allow passive solar heating to occur. IGUs with low-e glass on the more sunexposed east and west elevations will likely require the addition of a solar control toned glass. By using LEDs for localised and lowlevel lighting, a household can reduce the lighting component in it electricity bill by about 85 per cent. However, when installing downlights, care must be taken as some can become very hot and have been known to ignite. Installers may consider fitting appropriate enclosures that meet the fire safety standards and to ensure that thermal performance requirements of the ceiling insulation are not compromised. There are a number of enclosures on the market that meet these standards. According to distributorArrowform, Isolite Guard is a downlight housing which seals and encloses downlight fittings completely, thus providing prevention against fire hazards. Arrowform says the Isolite Guard is a Above and left: Isolite Guard is an efficient barrier against combustible materials in the ceiling. HOUSING JUNE 2009 high-temperature, fire-resistant enclosure which is easy to install and is an efficient barrier against combustible materials in the ceiling.Arrowform says the guard provides safe thermal resistance over downlights, and also prevents dust, insects and allergens from 49 Photos courtesy Arrowform