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When it comes to designing the shape of your house, a box or rectangle is best.

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A simple house is inexpensive to build and easy to insulate.

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It doesn’t have to be boring.

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Investing in the building envelope once will payoff for the lifetime of the building.

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Creating an air and water tight envelope will ensure interior comfort and minimize maintenance costs over decades. 

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The best windows you can afford are worth the investment.

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They will pay off in comfort and energy efficiency for decades.

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When preplanning your home, it is important to think about views,

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sun exposure, shading, prevailing winds and weather.

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Best practice for houses designed in the Northern hemisphere: Utilities and service spaces oriented to the north, living spaces oriented to the South. Shade the West / South West sides from excessive afternoon gains. Invite prevailing breezes into the house and let them leave on the leeward side.

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This is not always possible, but when it is, it guarantees a light filled home. Correctly specified solar exposed windows can provide free heat to the house, therefore reducing the energy needed to heat the home. 

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Reduce the number of walls in the home,

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Use changes in ceiling height and  furniture to define spaces where possible.

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 Use energy efficient fixtures and appliances.

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Unplug unnecessary gadgets when not in use to eliminate ghost loads.

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Managing fresh air circulation in the house through the use of an ventilation system will ensure healthful living conditions.

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Providing room on the roof accommodate photovoltaic panels is the easiest way to incorporate Renewables into your home. A south exposure in the Northern hemisphere is the best for efficiency, but any orientation can provide benefits. 

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Rainwater capture systems are an important consideration when water is scarce. 

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Other renewables, such as solar thermal, wind energy, ground source heat pumps can be considered as well, but there is a longer payback period and maintenance involved.

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Awareness of the environment surrounding the home, taking advantage of daylight, breezes, & rainwater are important. 

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Turning off lights, appliances, and electronic gadgets when not in use contribute to the overall efficiency of the home. 

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Turning down the heat at night or pulling blinds to keep out excess heat during milder weather.