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Energy Efficient House (Essay Sample)

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Write a comprehensive essay detailing the design of an efficient energy house.

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Energy Efficient House
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Introduction
Efficient energy utilization is an important aspect of human life. The principle of conservation of energy states that energy can never be created nor destroyed. Thus, it is essential to utilize the energy available for us effectively and efficiently. Energy can be transformed from one form to another by use of appropriate transducers. When designing a house, it is essential to do it with the greatest regard to efficient energy use as well as safety to the environment. House designers should always come up with designs that promote efficient energy use. For instance, utilization of renewable energy should be maximized. On the other hand, a house should be designed in a way that it is habitable promoting good health, comfort, as well as, aesthetics. Since we have designed a house that produces its own energy, it is prudent to avoid losses as much as possible. Most domestic energy losses are thermal losses. When these are avoided then the energy produced in a house can be enough to run the house and the surplus can be distributed to the neighborhood. We have looked into a couple of principles in order to achieve an energy efficient house. These elements include well closed thermal envelope, regulated ventilation, energy conserving appliances, doors and windows and energy saving cooling and heating systems. These are key elements in the design of a highly energy efficient house CITATION Kel12 \l 1033 (Kelly, 2012).
Thermal regulation
Thermal regulation is the key element in this design. In order to keep thermal conditions in the house habitable and energy-conservative, we have considered the following factors: insulation, roof and wall assemblies, caulking, weather-stripping, vapor and air retarders as well as position of windows CITATION Wil00 \l 1033 (Wilson & Morril, 2000).
Insulation
Energy-efficient houses are designed to have greater R-values of insulation than any other local house. R-Value refers to the capacity of a material to offer resistance to the transfer of heat. The larger the value, the higher the conservation of heat. The determination of the R-value that a house needs to be constructed with, will depend on the average temperatures that are experiences annually. For cold areas, the house should be designed with a high R-value whereas in hot places the house should be constructed with a low R-value. For instance, a normal house in New York will have a ceiling whose R-value insulation is 19 while the exterior walls have R-value 11. The foundation and floor may not necessarily be insulated. However, we have come up with a well- deigned energy-efficient house in the same locality. The house has a ceiling whose insulation lies within the range of R-50 to R-70 while the external walls have insulation ranging from R-20 to R-30. We are expecting to achieve this by filling the wall cavities with foam, wet-spray cellulose or rolls of fiberglass. The foundation walls are also insulated similar to the walls in the living space. The heating appliances are placed at the basement so that there can always be convectional movement of air where hot air goes up to where people live replacing the cold dense air. Insulation compaction is ensured and gaps avoided as much as possible so that energy conservation can be encouraged CITATION Cut07 \l 1033 (Cutter information Corporation, 2007).
Roof and wall assemblies
Our house will have wood as door and window frames. It is also used in roofing assembly in an extensive way. This is because wood is a poor conductor of heat and therefore most of the heat produced needed to warm up the house will not be lost through conduction. In our wood use we have been very particular to use Structural Insulated panels. This design consists of oriented-strand board or plywood that has been laminated to form foam board. The foam board is seven inch thick and is used for insulation and framing. This reduces the chances of builders to make mistakes and conserving the house from unnecessary energy losses. In place of steel reinforcement, we have used two foam boards one outside the house and one inside the house. This does not only have the advantage of keeping the house warm but reinforces the house to be able to stand such strong winds like hurricanes and tornadoesCITATION USD05 \l 1033 (Energy, US Department of, 2005).
Windows
Heat lost through the windows in a typical house is approximately 25%. Our window for our energy-efficient house will have a window area of about 6 to 8 percent of the total floor area, with most windows placed high and in the opposite direction of wind travel. This encourages the less dense warm air into the house and discourages the cold air. The south-facing roof is made to overhang over the window to prevent overheating of the house during summer. On the other hand, the east, west and north facing windows are designed with low Solar Heat Gain Coefficients unlike the south facing windows which are designed with high Solar Heat Gain Coefficients to ensure summer heat enters the house. The house contains doors and windows with energy star labels which are extremely efficient in energy conservation. We have used casement and awning styles for windows due to their ability to close tighter and prevent heat losses CITATION Car96 \l 1033 (Carmody, et al., 1996).
Vapor and Air Retarders.
Water vapor is a major risk to the house structure if it happens to condense inside the structures of a house. While water vapor has the effect to cause would to rot, it has the effect of drawing latent heat of vaporization from the house causing refrigeration effects in the house. This implies that a lot of energy is used to heat the house as much heat energy is drawn by the water vapor. Thus, our energy-efficient house is designed with air tight walls where calking materials and gaskets are installed. Moreover at the convergence point of seams where sill plate, foundation, sub floor and floor joist header meet is a compact seal of gasket or calk material CITATION Lst93 \l 1033 (Lstiburek & Carmody, 1993).
Ventilation
As much as emphasis on the energy-efficient house is on tight seals, the house needs to be ventilated only that in this case the ventilation has to be controlled. Well ventilated house prevents the risk of suffocation, air pollution, creates a comfortable environment, and reduces the risk of damage to the structure, as well as, controlling moisture-air infiltration into the house. To preserve most of the energy, the ventilations are fitted with heat recovery ventilators that help recover approximately 70% of the heat CITATION Sar05 \l 1033 (Sardinsky, 2005).
Cooling and Heating Systems
Our house is designed to be air tight and allowing minimal thermal energy losses. Therefore the heating and cooling systems are simple and automated. Firstly, the house is fitted with sensors that determine the temperature of the house. Then these sensors are connected to a system of air conditioners consisting of heaters and coolers that have been programmed to operate under certain thermal conditions. They have been programmed to maintain the temperatures in the house to remain at room temperature approximately 298K. When the temperatures in the room fall below this level, the sensors detect and send this information to an installed micro controller that sets the heaters in function mode thus regulating the temperature. On the other hand, if the temperature rises above the room temperature, coolers are automatically switched on thus regulating the temperature to normal room temperature. This will not consume much of the energy since the house is well designed to prevent heat losses. It does not only save energy but also improves comfort in the house CITATION USA12 \l 1033 (USA Department of Energy, 2012).
Efficient Appliances
In order to conserve the energy, design alone is not enough. The inhabitants of the house should ensure that the equipment used in that house are highly efficient. Appliances with high efficiencies, that is, close to one, draw the power they require to run with minimal energy losses. From time to time the appliances need to be checked for efficiency and servicing be made for the faulty ones and those whose efficiency has lowered. Another important aspect that we have included in our design is the power factor meter that helps determine whether the power drawn by the appliance is the actual power utilized. Power factor helps one know by what angle current lags voltage or vice versa and it is denoted by the term cosФ. The power factor of any electrical circuit should be as close to one as possible to ensure efficient utilization of electrical power. In our house there are fans that have motors with inductive reactance that cause reactive power in the system. When this reactive power is much, it alters the power factor of the system causing current to lag behind voltage thus the fans draw a lot of current that is not utilized. This is corrected by use of capacitor appropriate capacitor banks. Thus, our house design contains a power factor meter and a capacitor bank in the electrical system CITATION Ele13 \l 1033 (Electrical4u, 2013).
Environmental safety
Since the house utilizes carbon based fuels, some harmful gases to the atmosphere might be released to the atmosphere if not well disposed. For instance, combustion of carbon in limited supply of oxygen produces poisonous carbon monoxide which is lethal. Thus, carbon monoxide should either be reduced to carbon or oxidized to carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is not released into the atmosphere due to its tendency to cause global warming. Thus the carbon dioxide is recycled in a hydrogen reactor at about 350oC fitted with nickel catalyst to produce methane gas that is used as fuel again. Whe...
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