Sphere IT Solutions
Energy Saving Guide
A guide to comfortable living through energy saving
- Passive energy saving.
- Active energy saving.
- Taking care - some warnings.
Why save energy?
- Saving energy saves money. Energy costs money, so the more energy you save, the more money you save.
- For Personal comfort. Using simple energy saving techniques can turn your home into a much more
comfortable living space.
- Saving energy at home saves the environment around you.
Passive Energy Saving
Passive energy saving is ways in which you save energy without expending energy. These are by far the cheapest and best
ways to save energy. Following is a list of ways in which you can save energy around the house. Remember that
thermal comfort is one of the most important aspects of a comfortable home.
Stop the draughts
- By closing gaps under doors, in windows and other places around the house, you can stop the flow of air
into and out of the house. While a breeze from an open window in summer is nice, in winter the
draught takes the warm air out of your house and replaces it with cold air. Find all the air leaks
in your home, and then find ways of stopping these air leaks.
- If you have an air conditioning system, the same applies in summer, as draughts will replace your cool
air with hot air.
Insulate the Ceiling
- Warm summer sun heats up the space in the roof to very high temperatures. By insulating the ceiling,
you are placing a barrier between your living space and the heat in the roof.
- In summer, ceiling insulation stops heat coming from the roof to the living spaces, thereby keeping
the living spaces at a cooler temperature.
- In winter, ceiling insulation will keep heat generated by heaters trapped in the living space instead
of allowing it to escape through the ceiling.
Louver Patio Covers
- These patio covers can be opened and closed to regulate the amount of sunlight coming through. This is
an excellent way in which you can allow more sunlight into your house in winter, while blocking out
the sun during summer.
- Opening these louvers a fraction during summer will allow the air to circulate, thereby helping to
cool the building.
Energy saving lighting
- By using energy saving globes instead of ordinary globes, you can use less energy, and there are other
advantages to energy saving globes. They last a lot longer and regular filament globes, and they
give off much less heat.
- The placement of lights in the house is very important. By simply moving lights to different positions
in the room, a person can get more advantage out of a single light.
Use thick bottomed pots
- Thick bottomed pots connects with the plate of a stove much better than thin bottomed pots, and they
work much more effectively in transferring heat to the inside of the pot.
Double glazed windows
- Double glazed windows can be used actively and passively to make your home a more comfortable space
to live in. Passively, the double glazing creates a layer of insulation between your house and
the outside world, keeping heat in during the winter, and keeping heat out during the summer.
- Double glazing also has the added advantage of noise reduction, an advantage that can add a lot of
comfort to those homes built in high density areas such as cluster units, or homes built near
Colour and texture
There are different ways in which colour influences the comfort level of a building.
- On the outside, darker colours on rough surfaces will absorb more heat than brighter colours on
smooth surfaces. Thus painting the roof of a house a lighter colour will allow the roof to
reflect more sun in the summer, keeping the house much cooler. In warm climates a bright, smooth
roof will thus be preferable, whereas a dark rough texture will be more appropriate in cooler
- Inside the home, red colours will give the impression of heat, while blue colours will give the
impression of coolness.
- Darker colours indoors will also let a room feel smaller, and lighter colours will make a room feel
bigger, so choose a colour that suites your need.
Ventilate the roof
- By ventilating the roof, excess heat can escape during summer, thus cooling the building. Methods of
ventilating roofs include simple openings covered with slats and wind driven fans that actively
ventilates the roof space without using additional energy.
Exterior ground surfaces
The ground surfaces outside your home will have a big impact on the interior of the building, because each surface reflects
the sun in a unique manner.
- Lawns and gardens absorb most of the heat of the sun.
- Tiled uncovered patios will reflect the sun, and sunlight that is reflected onto the building will cause
heat build - up.
- Darker rough tiles on patios will absorb more heat, while lighter smooth tiles will reflect more heat.
By considering your climate, you can choose the tile colour and texture to suit your needs.
- Asphalt (tar) gets extremely hot in the sun and can have a hugely negative effect on a home.
Esthetically asphalt does not look good at all. Avoid asphalt if you can.
Thermal swimming pool covers
- These covers keep the heat in the pool water, thereby keeping the energy needed to warm a pool
to a minimum.
- They also help to minimize water evaporation.
Active Energy Saving
Active energy saving means using devices that consumes energy to save energy. They are usually more passive than passive
methods, but are sometimes the only way in which a problem can be overcome.
Mostly, active energy saving devices will take energy in the form of heat and transfer it from where it is wasted to where
it is needed, or it might store that wasted energy for later use.
Double glazing revisited
- By installing two small fans in a double glazed window, one on the inside and one on the outside, heat
trapped within the opening between the panes can be vented either into or out of the building. In
summer, the trapped warm air can be vented to the outside of the building, while in winter the
trapped air can be vented to the inside to help warm the room. These devices are commonly known
as a Trombe wall.
- By making such a device work off a solar panel, the device will only work when the sun is shining, thus
it will only heat/cool the building during daylight, when it is needed, and no additional energy
will be taken from the existing electrical supply.
Roof - space heat
- Even in winter, the roof space of most houses become extremely hot during the day. By pumping warm air
out of the roof space and into a building, a building's interior heat can be greatly increased.
(Remember that the roof space is usually dusty. Special precaution must be taken to ensure the air
pumped into the house is clean). Installing a thermostat in the roof space will ensure that the pump
in only activated if there is enough heat to be transferred, thus stopping cold air from being pumped
into the house. By switching the thermostat, the pump can be made to pump cool air into a house
Under floor heaters and feet heaters
- One of the first places a person will feel cold is their feet. For this reason, under floor heating
can greatly reduce the cost of heating. In a room without under floor heating people will often
overheat the roof using heaters, yet most of the heat from the heaters goes up, and thus a person
will still feel uncomfortable.
- By using under floor heating, a person's feet will feel comfortable, and therefore the amount of heating
needed from heaters is greatly reduced.
- Feet heaters are small electrical mats that do not heat the whole floor area of a room. They are
much more efficient as they have the heat close to the body of a person, and much less heat escapes
into the concrete floor of the building.
Water is one of the scarcest resources we have, yet if properly managed you can save yourself huge amounts of time and
money, and have much more water for both your home and your garden.
Shower VS bath
- Consider that a bath uses 80 to 120 liters of water, compared to 25 to 35 liters of water for a shower.
By simply showering instead of bathing, you can save huge amounts of water.
- Installing a rainwater tank to catch and store rainwater can give you huge amounts of free water to use
for gardening. These tanks need not be an eyesore, as they can be hidden behind walls or installed
underground. The advantage of storing the tank above ground is that you do not need to install a
pump to get the water out, you simply let gravity do the job.
- The tank is fed from the house gutter system, thus using water that in most cases would have been lost.
- Runoff from a roof will give you approximately 1 Liter per square meter of roof for 1mm of rainfall.
- By using an alternative paving, water can be let into the ground naturally, instead of having it run
off the paving to end in municipal rain water systems. These paving consists of large blocks with
drainage holes. They are well designed and esthetically pleasing.
- Water scrubbers are devices that cleans water so that it can be re - used. In the past, bath, shower and kitchen
water had been let into the garden as extra water for irrigation. This however has the negative effect of
introducing large amounts of chemicals into the gardens and possibly polluting ground water systems. Water
scrubbers will take this grey water and clean it to such an extent that is can be used for toilets and
- There are many different types of water scrubbers on the market today, some more complex than others.
Large amounts of water can be saved by installing a dual water system so that scrubbed water can
be re - used.
- When planning what to plant in your garden, consider that the plants that will use the water most
effectively will be plants that grow naturally in your area. Look at parks and open spaces to see
which plants and trees grow naturally where you live.
Dual Flush Toilets
- Dual flush toilets save water by having a dual flush system that uses a lot less water than a normal
toilet. The toilet has two levers to differentiate between solid and liquid waste.
Leaking pipes and taps
- Some of the worst waste goes towards leaking pipes, taps and toilets. Fix these first and foremost, and
try to stop them from happening in the future.
Remember these few objectives when checking out your home
- Have a heightened awareness of natural influences, so that you know what nature is offering you,
and how best to make use of it.
- Look for the best availability at the lowest realistic cost.
- Identify (seek) new and better options.
- Make efficient use of the energy, water and waste that you have.
- Recycling is one of the best ways to preserve energy (and money!).
- Remember the three steps: Re - use, Re - cycle and discard.
- Compost makers are easy to use, give you a great amount of compost at no additional costs other than
buying the compost maker, and is a very good way of recycling.
- Using grass cuttings to mulch your gardens not only fertilizes the garden, it also saves water.
Design before retrofit
- Designing a house, or even an area of a house, to make efficient use of energy is much easier than
trying to retrofit an existing house or area. Therefore if you are thinking of building a new home,
or renovating or remodeling an existing area, remember to build your energy savings into the new
Use the Internet
- Searching through the Internet will bring you all the latest methods that can be used to save energy
in and around the home. Remember to check out each option to make sure it makes both financial and
A Warning Note
- Methods of energy saving that are good for one application or building may be very dangerous in other
buildings. Please read the safety instructions that come with all devices carefully and make sure
all safety recommendations are adhered to.
- When gas or other combustion takes place to heat or cook by or for any other reason, the room should be
ventilated. To stop all ventilation by using techniques described in this manual will be dangerous.
Please read your appliance manuals carefully.
- In certain areas, roof spaces, room spaces and even floor spaces must be ventilated to avoid moisture
build - up. Please take the necessary precautions.
Beware of fads
- The move towards saving energy and the environment has produced many techniques and technologies that
are not useful, or even counter the exact cure they are supposed to have. An extreme example of
this would be a house with the whole roof covered in grass or other plants. Although one could
argue that this offsets the footprint of the building so that the planted area on that site is not
diminished, it is also important to consider the cost in money and to the ecology of building a
building strong enough to handle such a heavy garden. The extra building material such as concrete
and steel that would be needed to support a garden on a roof would probably not be offset by the
plants that such a garden would house.
Additional problems such as water leaks, maintenance of the garden etc would probably make this a very
difficult project that would have to be managed all the time.
This, however, is only one example. As stated the industry is full of such fads, and when considering
which options to implement to make your home energy efficient, you need to examine each option carefully.
Hopefully this web page will help you in saving energy, and money, in and around your home. Remember that the focus
is on comfortable living, it is to turn an energy inefficient house into an energy efficient house where you
can enjoy comfort without placing stress on your budget or the environment.
If you feel you found some of the ideas mentioned here to be of value, please remember to mention this site to a friend.
If you would like to comment on any of the suggestions on this page, please reply via the email address at the bottom of the
Enjoy your home!