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'ECO' HOUSE VERSUS 'NORMAL'
HOUSE By Mark Fielding, 25TH May 2010
People ask me frequently: "how much extra does an 'Eco' house cost
over a 'normal' house", - my answer is always "nothing!" - which
usually surprises everyone, and it seems the general impression
out there is that an eco house does cost more - which
unfortunately is a belief that is not helping us all to improve
our new housing stock.
me qualify; if you were building any new house would you not fill
the wall and ceiling framing cavities full of insulation to
maintain good comfort? the cost is generally just 2 to 3 % of the
house cost so it makes good sense. An eco house is simply
insulated to that same level because often there is no
benefit insulating to higher levels unless heat losses can be
significantly reduced through glazing (more than just with
curtains) which is where heat loss is greatest.
further qualify; eco homes often have more glazing on their north
sides to utilise passive solar heating. Good quality Low E double
glazing is an expensive component but rather than adding extra,
the passive solar eco home is simply designed to redistribute the
total area of glazing, putting most on the north side, moderate
areas on east and west sides, and almost none on the south side.
Thus no extra cost.
wait theres more; The 'tack on' solar water heating panel is an
extra expense you say. I say no, that if you were building any new
home, why would you not include a solar panel to significantly
reduce your power bills. The extra capitol cost of the solar
system, usually less than 4% of the total house cost, stays with
the value of the home and will be realised every day in power
savings and upon resale of the home. Thus a solar water system is
not an extra on the eco home.
specify good quality curtains as part of the building performance
design, because as mentioned, the large windows of contemporary
home designs are their greatest heat loss element. Curtains
significantly reduce radiant heat loss at night, not an extra
expence on the eco design because your 'non' eco home should also
have them - if you want to feel comfortable that is... - and isn't
that the main point of a house?
home was appropriately designed from the ground up to offer
comfort levels and energy efficiency to its occupants (both
'no-brainer' common sense features) and if it were also designed
to be space efficient to save on materials and cost, (as everyone
wants to save money) and if it were to be built using safe non
toxic materials (for why would you want a poisonous house?)
materials that were simple and natural (low embodied energy to
reduce our carbon footprint) and sourced locally (as it makes good
sense keep our own people and industries in work) - would you not
have a good affordable house? why would you need to call this an
'eco' house? While others still consider these to be 'eco' houses,
I design and consider them as 'Normal'.