Energy-efficient construction: How to make your home more energy efficient

Energy-efficient construction. These are your options.

Energy-efficient construction or energy-efficient renovations protect the environment and save money in the long term. We will show you the options that solar power, heat pumps, and pellet heating offer, and how building insulation improves energy efficiency.

Energy-efficient construction has a wealth of benefits

When carrying out renovation work or planning to build a new home, it is worth investing in energy efficiency. By incorporating renewable energy and full insulation, home owners do more in the long term than just save electricity costs. They also contribute to climate protection through lower CO2 emissions. This is supported by the Confederation and cantons as well: Energy-efficient renovation and construction is subsidized with funding.

It is important to find out well in advance what measures are eligible for a subsidy where you live. You can find information about it on the "Energie Schweiz" platform of the Federal Office of Energy. Also get the advice of experts regarding the particular characteristics of your property, the location, and the climate before you start renovating or building. This will help you decide which energy-saving systems are most suitable.

Using solar power increases energy efficiency

When carrying out renovation work or planning to build a new home, solar collectors on the roof or the facade are a popular option. Solar collectors convert sunlight into thermal energy. The heat transfer fluid circulating in the collector is heated by the sun and then transferred to the heating system or used to provide hot water.

This is distinct from photovoltaic systems, which use the sun's energy to generate electricity that is used privately or can be fed into the public grid in return for financial compensation. The owner is therefore protected from rising energy prices. Solar thermal and photovoltaic systems are most efficient when installed on the southern side of the building, since solar radiation is strongest in the south. 

Greater energy efficiency with solar cells

Solar cells for greater energy efficiency

Solar thermal collectors transform solar energy into thermal energy.
Source: iStock by Getty Images

Energy-efficient construction by choosing a heat pump

Photovoltaic systems work optimally when combined with an electric heat pump. This draws heat from the groundwater, air, or ground. A heat pump essentially works like a refrigerator, except the other way around. The cooled-down liquid cooling agent is pumped through a pipe system. In the process, it absorbs the heat from its surroundings and vaporizes. This environmentally-friendly method can be used to heat the water for the heating system.

Brine/water heat pumps that draw heat from the ground are the most commonly used in energy-efficient renovation or construction. Due to the constant temperatures deep in the ground, the system operates with the same performance all year round. Heat pumps do not run on fossil fuels, so this system is sustainable and innovative. It also takes up little space.

Energy-efficient renovations with a heat pump

Energy-efficient renovations with a heat pump

Air-source heat pumps use the heat from the surrounding air.
Source: iStock by Getty Images

Climate-neutral heating through energy-efficient renovation with pellet heating

Pellet heating is another energy-efficient option for heating. It uses leftover wood that is pressed into pellets. The pellets are burned in a boiler connected to the home's heating. Unused energy is stored in a buffer tank for later use. A pellet boiler can cover all the hot water requirements of a home.

Its environmentally-friendly aspect is also appealing: Heating with wood pellets is virtually climate-neutral. The boiler emits only as much CO2 as the tree compensates for when it grows back. Renovating with pellet heating is a great option for households with high energy consumption. This applies in particular to older farmhouses that do not yet have full thermal insulation.

Energy-efficient construction and planning for pellet heating

Energy-efficient construction and planning for pellet heating 

Wood pellets are made of left-over wood chip and sawdust, and are used as fuel.
Source: iStock by Getty Images

Building insulation increases energy efficiency

Thermal insulation of the entire building envelope is another option for energy-efficient construction. This is to reduce the loss of heat outwards in the winter and protect the building from the heat in warmer weather. Full insulation provides a better living environment, saves on heating costs, and increases the value of the building. Insulation materials are of organic, mineral, or synthetic origin. The main differences among them are their insulating capacity, price, and sustainability. In terms of sustainability, fiberboard has proven especially effective.

The outside of the house can be covered with facade insulation. Roof insulation saves a particularly high amount of energy, because warm air rises. If you plan to use the basement of the house as additional living space, basement insulation is also recommended. Double or triple-glazed windows should also be installed as part of energy-efficient renovation and construction. This prevents further loss of heat.

Energy-efficient construction with thermal insulation

Better thermal insulation for greater energy efficiency

The internal wall of the building is insulated against heat loss.
Source: iStock by Getty Images

Are you planning energy-efficient renovations, or would you like to build an energy-efficient home?

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