The energy-efficient home | Inquirer Business
Green Architrends

The energy-efficient home

The Philippines has one of the highest rates of electricity per kilowatt-hour in Asia. Due to the tropical climate of the country, many houses are dependent on electricity to power air-conditioners and electric fans in order to deal with the high temperatures during the day. This is why energy efficiency is one of the most important principles to keep in mind when building or buying a new house.

The following are some concepts to consider.

1 Insulation. For nontechnical people, insulation would sound like something best left to engineers or architects to discuss. However, this is a very necessary feature to ensure thermal comfort in the home. Insulation can easily be removed from the design stage or not even being installed by the developer because of cost-cutting measures. This is a costly mistake to make because insulation can greatly reduce the heat from the sun that is able to come inside the house.


Roof insulation normally consists of a layer of heat-resistant material between the roof and interior ceiling. This reduces the penetration of direct sunlight on the roof to the top floor. Without roof insulation, the top floor in houses tends to be very hot especially during the afternoon because the sun’s heat has come inside from the roof. It could take hours for this heat to dissipate.


2 Sunshades. Having additional barriers against sunlight outside the house also helps. Sunshades are  any surface placed on the outer layers of a house or building that shield it from direct sunlight. Strategically placed window sunshades are becoming common for modern houses, while other more nontraditional measures also work. Simply having trees or other plants (such as on a trellis or even just on pots) that serve to shade the house from direct sunlight is also a good idea.

3 Cross-ventilation. The design of a house greatly affects the movement of air from outside to inside and vice versa. Take advantage of natural breeze to cools the house, without having to resort to any artificial method that uses energy. However not all architects would design a house with this in mind, so it is best to ask about ways in which cross-ventilation is built into the design of the house. With cross-ventilation, there are multiple passages for air to move into the house, with corresponding exits that allow it to flow out of the house. Thus air does not stagnate and heat building up inside the house flows out naturally.

4 Energy-efficient appliances. It goes without saying that the best appliances to have would be those with high energy-efficiency ratings. In the Philippines, air-conditioning and refrigerator units are required by government to have a sticker stating their Energy Efficiency Factor (EEF), which should be used by consumers for purchasing decisions. The higher the EEF, the more energy efficient the appliance will perform. This means that outright purchase price should not be the only criterion to use before buying appliances. It is better to pay for more expensive appliances just once and pay for lower utility bills for many years, than to pay once for a cheap appliance but pay for high utility bills for the useful life of that appliance.

Lighting fixtures are already moving from the Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) technology to the even more efficient Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lighting technology. Like appliances, these bulbs cost much more than regular incandescent bulbs, but with useful lives throughout the  years and low-power consumption, they are well worth the investment.

5 Airtight air-conditioned rooms. Air conditioning can be wasted in houses that do not have well-built doors and windows. When an air-conditioned room has small openings to the outside environment, hot air comes inside, and this adds to the cooling load of the air-conditioned room. Thus doors and windows should be well-built to ensure air-tightness.

6 More efficient-practices in the home. A good way to reduce electricity consumption is to cut down on unnecessary usage. Appliances left plugged in all the time can be considered electricity “vampires” that continue to use electricity as long as they are plugged.


Energy modesty is a principle that calls for temperance in the use of appliances depending on the true needs of the user. This means buying the right size of appliances and only using them as needed. Having smaller appliances and restricting use of energy guzzlers (most notably air conditioning units) would be another good way to improve energy efficiency in the home.

For comments or inquiries, email [email protected]

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TAGS: energy efficiency, houses, property

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