Efficient Electric House Design

Image of solar panel installation designed for the roof type and orientation
Solar Panel Installation designed for the roof type and orientation

Holistic Approach

Consider solar power and electric heat pumps for your efficient electric house design because heating, cooling and water heating is more than 60% of your total power demand.

Improve the thermal performance of your house to reduce your heat load (see below). 

Install energy efficient appliances and plan for them to operate during the day with your solar power, as far as possible (see below).

Placing your Outdoor Equipment

Your efficient electric house design will include electric equipment with compressors and electric motors. Whilst the noise emitted by this equipment has reduced considerably over the years, there will still be a white humming noise to manage. 

Think about the placement of your outdoor equipment at the outset. Design a small flat roof section if you have insufficient space on the ground. Also, design for the rooms below, adjacent and neighbors next door. With thought, you can place your outdoor equipment to minimise noise.

For an efficient electric house, your heating, ventilation and cooling equipment needs good air flow. The outlet air needs to get away from the inlet side for optimal performance.

Hydrosol image of an LG aircon outdoor unit and Stiebel Eltron heat pump roof mounted on a vibration isolation platform.
LG aircon outdoor unit and Stiebel Eltron heat pump roof mounted on a vibration isolation platform.

Electric Heating and Cooling Advice

Efficient electric house design requires of a balance between the aesthetics, thermal performance and your budget. Hydrosol has an HVAC Consulting Service to assist you with this: CONTACT US

If you have a pool or spa, this opens up other options. For example, it is possible to heat a small pool using your hydronic heat pump with an external heat exchanger.

Hot water heating is another important aspect of your all-electric house design. Locate your storage tank as close as possible to your hot water taps to reduce heat loss and water loss.

High Thermal Performance Design

An efficient electric house with good design will have high thermal performance. This means there will be less heat load in winter and cooling load in summer. Therefore, your heating and cooling equipment can be smaller, costing less to purchase and less to operate.

Ensure your electric house has thermal performance of at least 6 Stars (NatHERS).

Passive houses with 10 Stars require no mechanical heating or cooling. However, this is very difficult and costly to achieve. For most people living in a southern Australian climate zone, 6 or 7 Stars will be sufficient.

Thermal Performance Design Factors

Make your home energy efficient. Seek advice on how to achieve the minimum 6 Star rating.

Here are some design factors for your efficient electric house:

  • Location climate (whether your house is being designed mainly for heating or cooling)
  • House orientation to the sun and prevailing wind
  • Shading in winter and summer
  • The internal mass of your house
  • The amount and type of windows, frames and glazing
  • Insulation of ceilings, walls and floors
  • Thermal bridging
  • Air tightness
  • Ceiling fans

More Information

Here are some links for more information:

Apart from design factors that affect your Star Rating, consider also in your all-electric house design:

  • House size, type and number of levels
  • Your preferences around heating and cooling methods
  • Your family’s needs
  • Your budget

Resale Value

The resale value of your house is another important consideration. Look at your project as an investment. You will achieve a return on  your investment during its operating life and also upon sale.

Hydrosol cut-away image of Stiebel Eltron WPL25ACS 14kW hydronic heat pump
Stiebel Eltron WPL25ACS 14kW hydronic heat pump

Hydronic Heat Pumps

Consider hydronic heat pumps for your all-electric house because they provide:

  • Luxuriant radiant heat
  • Cooling in reverse cycle via underfloor and fan coil convectors
  • Efficient all-electric heating and cooling that can be powered by your solar panels
  • Pool and spa heating using a heat exchanger (refer below).

Heat pumps are ideal to use with solar power because they typically deliver heating or cooling 4 or 5 times greater than their power input. Hydronic heat pumps can store heating and cooling in the building mass for release inside during the evening.

Solar Power

Solar power is an important part of your all-electric house design. The challenge is to match the power demand of your electrical appliances with the power supply from your solar panels, as far as possible. 

Add solar panels if your roof has good direct sunlight and you can orient solar panels to the north, west or east.

This will be cost effective for you particularly if you plan to stay in your home for more than 5 years.

With good house design and high thermal mass, you can run your heat pumps and air conditioners largely during the day using your solar power. This will give you very low operating costs.

Read more: Managing Your Solar Power

Hydrosol image of solar panel installation for solar power case study
Roof Top Solar Panel Installation
Hydrosol image of Stiebel Eltron heat recovery ventilation systems, centralised and de-centralised
Stiebel Eltron Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems

Heat Recovery Ventilation

Consider Energy or Heat Recovery Ventilation (ERV/HRV) for your all-electric house. New builds and renovations with thermal performance above 6 are well insulated and well sealed so they need good ventilation.

ERV ventilators transfer both dry (sensible) heat and humid (latent) heat from the stale outgoing air to the fresh incoming air. Therefore, ERV ventilators are ideal for the humid conditions of northern Australia.

On the other hand, HRV ventilators transfer dry heat only. Therefore, HRV ventilators are suited to the dryer conditions of southern Australia.

Consider adding ERV or HRV ventilation to reduce your heat load and to keep your house feeling fresh and airy without the need for opening windows as much.

Read more: Heat Recovery Ventilation BLOG

Air Conditioning

Consider adding air conditioning to your all-electric house design if your location is prone to a lot of extreme heat, humidity or if your home has multiple levels.

Whilst heat pumps are very good at heating and can cool in summer, air conditioners are designed for cooling and better at this. 

There are several types of air conditioning systems to consider. Explore which type is best for your design.

Read more: Best Air Conditioning Systems

Hydrosol image of linear air conditioning diffusers for ducted systems
Image of off-grid solar panel installation maximizing roof space and orientation
Solar panel installation maximizing roof space and orientation

Off-grid Homes

For off-grid homes, all-electric house design is critical. Therefore, consider carefully your options to improve thermal performance throughout the year. This will reduce your need for mechanical heating and cooling which typically accounts for more than 40% of your power demand. 

If you have plenty of wood available, then you may want to use that for heating. However, heat pumps can provide a reliable back up for wood heating. Set them to  standby and they will automatically add to the heating load as required.

Also, heat pumps can cool efficiently in reverse cycle in a dryer climate. Hydronic heat pump cooling works best with underfloor hydronic circuits and ceiling fans. If you have radiators, consider adding fan coil convectors to your hydronic system or install separate air conditioning.

Read More: Australian Off Grid Homes, 6 Examples

Pool and Spa Heating with a Heat Pump

Consider a heat pump for heating your pool or spa. They do not take up roof space that could otherwise be used for solar panels. Also, they can extract heat from the air even when it’s cold, raining or dark, so are ideal for heating during shoulder seasons to extend your swimming season.

Explore whether your hydronic heat pump may be suitable for heating your pool or spa. This will depend on:

  • Your climate
  • Size and depth of your pool
  • Desired water temperature
  • Use of a pool blanket
  • Pool use through winter

In general, if your pool is less than 30,000 litres, your hydronic heat pump may be suitable. If your pool is larger, then a dedicated pool heat pump will be more appropriate. Your hydronic heat pump will need a suitable heat exchanger to separate the corrosive pool water from your hydronic heat pump.

Read more: Astral Pool Heat Pumps

Image of Astral Pool heat pump for heating pools and spas
Astral Pool heat pump for heating pools and spas
Image of Elecro heat exchanger for heating pools and spas with a hydronic heat pump
Heat exchanger for heating pools and spas with a hydronic heat pump

Our Process

Solar HVAC Process Step 1 is to identify the issues and preferences for a cost effective all-electric heating and cooling system or systems.

Understanding your needs

We know that every client and project is different so we start by understanding your needs, priorities and vision for your build then propose a draft solution with indicative pricing.

Your Indicative Quote will be developed further with you, your architect and/or your builder into a Final Quote taking into account your preferences, budget, build requirements and timing also.

Solar HVAC Process step 2 is to design a cost effective all-electric heating and cooling system or systems based upon the information from the identifcation step 1.

Design

Once we reach agreement on the Final Quote and project plan, we will undertake the detailed design work looking at equipment siting, underfloor circuit or radiator layout, ventilation and air conditioning design, etc.

If you are installing solar power, we will work with your or our solar contractor to incorporate this as part of the whole solution.

Solar HVAC Process Step 3 is to select, order and deliver the products for the design created in Step 2.

Products

We work with the best products in the industry and we have a lot of experience with heat pump technology.

We want you to be very happy with your system so we only use quality equipment with proven reliability, local Australian support and good product warranties. 

Solar HVAC Process Step 4 is to install the products ordered and delivered in Step 3.

Installation

We work with the best and most experienced installers. The installation process starts at the beginning of the build with project planning and design work, followed by the rough-in of plumbing pipes and electrical cables.

Towards the end of the build, we return to deliver, install and connect equipment.

Solar HVAC Process Step 5 is to commission the all-electric heating and cooling system or systems.

Commissioning

Once everything has been installed, we commission your system/s and connect your them to your home WIFI.

The main equipment is WIFI enabled, giving you control and monitoring through your electronic devices.

Solar HVAC Process Step 6 is to finalise the project and establish a maintenance plan going forward.

After Sales Support

We recognise that you have made a significant investment in heating, cooling, ventilation and/or water heating and that you want your system/s to function optimally for many years.

Our equipment suppliers are all leading companies with service desks and will be happy to deal with any warranty issues.

Our installers have service plans to ensure optimal performance of your system/s. We will be happy to discuss a service plan tailored to your specific needs.

Our Partners & Affiliations