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How do we ensure our Cyprus property is energy efficient

We have been living in Cyprus for a year and have decided to build a property on some land we’ve bought near Marathounta. The rented property we’re currently living in has no insulation, heating or air conditioning and it gets very cold in winter and very hot in summer. Is there anything we can do […]

We have been living in Cyprus for a year and have decided to build a property on some land we’ve bought near Marathounta.

The rented property we’re currently living in has no insulation, heating or air conditioning and it gets very cold in winter and very hot in summer. Is there anything we can do to make sure our new home isn’t the same?

Answer

Thanks for your email. The Cyprus Government has plans to implement an EU Directive on the energy performance of properties. This lays down the minimum performance requirements on new and existing buildings.

There are a number of things your architect can do to improve the insulation qualities of your new home. This is something you need to discuss with him along with the need for air conditioning and central heating. For example, from the design perspective:

  • Some properties, particularly holiday homes & apartments, have open plan kitchens, dining & living areas. If you use the kitchen during the Cyprus summer, the whole area can get unbearably hot. One thing you may wish to consider is having a separate kitchen together with extractor fans for your hob & oven. Although you’ll still need to switch on the air conditioning when you’re cooking in the summer, it’ll be a lot cheaper than trying to air condition a massive open plan area.
    (Some Cypriot homes have two kitchens – one for ‘show’ and a second for doing the actual cooking. This practice is quite common in places like the Philippines where houses have kitchens in a separate annex to the main house).
  • I suggest you consider having a separate air-conditioned utility room where you can do your washing, ironing and other in comfort.
  • To help keep the house cool in the summer, you should shield your windows and patio doors from the direct rays of the sun. You can do this by fitting adjustable shutters, by having covered patio areas, awnings, etc. But in the winter, you need the sun to help heat the house and minimise your heating bills.
  • Central heating, this needs to be thought about at the design stage. You can have gas or oil fired central heating to radiators or under-floor heating systems, and electric tiles and mats that are laid under the floor finishes. You can get reverse cycle air conditioners that heat as well as cool, but these can be expensive to run.

As for the materials used in the construction of the house, there are a number of things that can be done to improve matters:

Floor

  • You can incorporate insulation into the floor slab in the form of aerated concrete. This looks a bit like Aero when it cures and it’s so light, it even floats on water! It’s poured on top of the slab and helps prevent heat escaping through the floor.

Walls

‘Standard’ external walls are constructed from 20cm clay bricks which are used to in-fill the reinforced concrete superstructure. You can improve insulation in a number of ways:

  • You can have cavity walls (with or without insulation in the cavity) using the normal 20cm x 10cm clay bricks.
  • You can use autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) blocks in place of clay bricks.
  • You can use 25cm bricks in place of the more usual 20cm bricks on the external walls.

Windows & patio doors

  • Aluminium windows and patio doors don’t need much in the way of maintenance. You can get them with a thermal break which prevents the frames inside the house from heating up.
  • Double-glazed units are widely available and you can get tinted glass fitted, which again will help keep your house insulated. (Aluminium shutters also help improve security and you can buy them complete with security locks).

Roof

  • I’ve talked about the design of the roof in an earlier article, and in addition, you can fit insulation bats under the wooden roof to help keep your new home cool in summer & warm in winter.

There are many aspects that your architect will be considering when designing your new home including its orientation, its relationship with nearby properties, and your needs. And he’ll probably be able to give you more information on the Cyprus Govt plans to improve energy efficiency in your property.

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