Operating from two branches located in two of South Africa’s major destinations (Cape Town and Johannesburg), Francois Marais Architects has been concluding projects and wowing clients with first-rate design solutions since the company was established in 1996. Services like architectural designs and additions and alterations also serve to enhance the reputation that Francois Marais Architects has built for itself over the years.
Today, Francois Marais Architects still continues impressing via luxurious designs and beautiful houses, but also via energy-efficient and green-star rated buildings for the commercial- and residential industries. And that just so happens to be what we’re focusing on today.
Energy-efficient designs is another factor which makes Francois Marais Architects stand out from competitors, for the firm is dearly devoted to including eco-conscious features along with a firm dose of luxury in their high-class designs. And since these architectural experts seem to get it right every time, we thought we’d delve into the world of energy-efficient homes (and how to build a new home that is affordable to build and costs less to own) while being inspired by some of Francois Marais Architects’ finest examples.
1. Choose energy efficient lighting
Of course, there are rules when it comes to building container houses, like the fact that zoning permits need to be obtained. And of course, every region will have its own sets of rules, meaning some research on your part to understand all the regulations before you start building. And remember that you will also need a vacant piece of land in order to set your container-home dreams into motion.
And with plots in popular areas priced lower than existing house prices, even when taking into consideration the costs of building a container home (plus its interior/exterior extras like built-in cupboards, elegant sliding doors, etc.) this type of construction certainly makes sense to many people.
2. Reconsider your electrical stove
Since electrical stoves use a lot of energy, maybe it’s time to switch to a good gas model? They’re cheaper to operate, seeing as the cost of gas (used in cooking) is less than the equivalent costs of electrical usage.
3. Save energy while cooking
Scope around for pots and pans that conserve and retain heat better. Always keep the lids on while cooking, and consider investing in a decent pressure cooker to cook your food a bit longer (perfect for popping dinner in and coming home to a nice, warm meal).
4. Minimise your geyser guzzling energy
Switch to solar geysers which use sunshine to heat water. Although those initial installation costs can be expensive, you’ll save / earn your money back shortly.
If this is too pricy an option, how about getting a timer for your geyser to switch it off when not in use?
5. Conserve energy with your kitchen appliances
Allow your beautiful house's modern kitchen to help you cut down on energy use by installing AAA or A+ energy-rated appliances like a washing machine, fridge, and dishwasher.
6. Consider solar tempering
Allowing sunshine to filter indoors via south-facing windows in wintertime cuts down on heating costs. And shading those same windows come summer does the same for cooling expenses.
With solar tempering, which should be addressed in a house’s design stage, the incoming sun’s heat is optimised without inviting the additional costs of thermal mass required for maximum passive solar heating.
7. Choose highly insulated doors and windows
In a well-insulated, airtight building envelope, doors and windows can be seen as big energy gaps. However, they are also the third most cost-effective opportunity to turn an abode into an energy-efficient home.
Heat loss can be controlled by choosing appropriate door- and window products (i.e. solar control film, exterior shading like awnings and blinds… ), cautiously locating them, then optimising their size and orientation for the most favourable results.
8. Set up a fresh (and energy efficient) air supply
Energy-efficient homes are airtight; thus, it makes the incessant source of fresh-filtered air and moisture control rather important. And one of the major benefits here is the fact that these homes are healthier, more comfortable compared to standard houses.
Thanks to highly energy-efficient ventilation systems (heat recovery ventilation / HRV, or energy recovery ventilation / ERV), the stale air can be driven out while the heat is recovered and returned to the home with the freshened air.