1059 Main Avenue, Clifton, NJ 07011

The most valuable resources for teachers and students

(973) 777 - 3113


1059 Main Avenue

Clifton, NJ 07011

07:30 - 19:00

Monday to Friday

123 456 789


Goldsmith Hall

New York, NY 90210

07:30 - 19:00

Monday to Friday

Designing an energy efficient home

Designing an energy efficient home

Introduction: (Initial Observation)

With limitations of fossil fuels which is now our main source of energy, scientists have come up with many different ideas toward energy production and energy conservation. Although thousands of ideas have been offered and many are being implemented today, research on energy conservation is still a hot and rewarding subject.

The purpose of this project is to stimulate your creativity in producing new plans and ideas that helps us to save energy or to get energy from the sun.


This project guide contains information that you need in order to start your project. If you have any questions or need more support about this project, click on the “Ask Question” button on the top of this page to send me a message.

If you are new in doing science project, click on “How to Start” in the main page. There you will find helpful links that describe different types of science projects, scientific method, variables, hypothesis, graph, abstract and all other general basics that you need to know.

Project advisor

Information Gathering:

Find out about energy conservation and renewable energy sources. Read books, magazines or ask professionals who might know in order to learn about heat insulating materials and methods used to conserve energy. Keep track of where you got your information from.

Following are samples of information that you may find.

Fundamentals of energy conservation designs are based on the following facts.

1. The sun is the largest source of energy in our solar system. Sunlight can be collected and concentrated using reflectors.

2. Black color absorbs light while white color reflects light.

3. Water has the highest specific heat and is a perfect fluid for storage and transmission of heat energy.

Some of the ideas for energy conservation are described here. Hopefully, you will be able to come up with other ideas:

1. Curtain Automation: A curtain that automatically opens for sunlight and outside heat to enter and closes to preserve the inside heat and light when required.

2. Two color curtains: The layer of curtain faced to the window can be black in order to absorb the sunlight and convert it to heat. The layer of curtain faced to the room can be white to reflect the inside light and heat.

3. Heat Insulations: Heat insulator material such as fiber glass can be installed inside the walls to prevent loss of heat from inside.

4. Heat Retention by water: Water may be stored inside the walls to retain heat.

5. Heat absorbing color scheme: The side of the house that is faced to the sun can be painted with dark color to absorb heat.

For every idea that you have, make a model using cardboard, foam board, Styrofoam, or plywood.
Use a thermometer to test the effect of your specific design in absorbing and retaining heat.

Record your data in a table to show the rate of energy conservation of your design.

Question/ Purpose:

The purpose of this project is to design and test (experiment) a new energy conservation technique. Specifically, I am trying to see how the color of the house may affect heat absorption rate.

Other examples are:

Specifically, I am trying to see how the storage of water in the house may affect heat retention of the house.

Specifically, I am trying to see how the color of curtains may affect the heat absorption and heat retention of the house.

As you see this second sentence varies based on your design. You just need to propose and test one design factor.

Identify Variables:

When you think you know what variables may be involved, think about ways to change one at a time. If you change more than one at a time, you will not know what variable is causing your observation. Sometimes variables are linked and work together to cause something. At first, try to choose variables that you think act independently of each other.

The independent variable is the color of the house. The dependent variable is the air temperature in the house. Controlled variables are sunlight, wind, and experimental procedures.


Based on your gathered information, make an educated guess about what types of things affect the system you are working with. Identifying variables is necessary before you can make a hypothesis.

A dark color house absorbs more sunlight and converts it to the heat. White color inside the house can also help preserve heat.

Note that you may come up with a different hypothesis based on your initial question. My initial question was “How does the color of the house affect heat absorption rate?”

Experiment Design:

Design an experiment to test each hypothesis. Make a step-by-step list of what you will do to answer each question. This list is called an experimental procedure. For an experiment to give answers you can trust, it must have a “control.” A control is an additional experimental trial or run. It is a separate experiment, done exactly like the others. The only difference is that no experimental variables are changed. A control is a neutral “reference point” for comparison that allows you to see what changing a variable does by comparing it to not changing anything. Dependable controls are sometimes very hard to develop. They can be the hardest part of a project. Without a control you cannot be sure that changing the variable causes your observations. A series of experiments that includes a control is called a “controlled experiment.”

Experiment 1: 

Effect of house color on heat absorption

In order to find out how the color of the house affects the heat absorption rate, you may construct two model houses in two different colors and test their inside temperature during the day.


  1. Use a plain foam board, plywood, or cardboard to build two identical model houses.
    It is quite up to you how you want to make your model houses. You may simply use two identical boxes and draw doors and windows on it to make it look like a house. You can also be more creative and cut windows and doors and cover windows with cellophane to simulate glasses. Foam boards and balsa woods available in craft stores can be used for more professional looking models.
  2. Mount a room thermometer or food thermometer in each house such that the bulb or sensor part of the thermometer be inside the house while the display part of that remains outside. Make sure both thermometers show the same temperature while they are next to each other at room temperature.
  3. Paint the exterior of one house with black or any other dark latex paint. Latex paint is recommended because you can wash it with water before it is fully dried. For example you use water to wash the brush as soon as you finish painting.
  4. Paint the exterior of the other house with white or any other light color latex paint. Wait until all paints dry.
  5. In a sunny morning, place both houses outside, on a table under the sun and record the initial temperature of the both houses.
  6. Repeat your observation and temperature recording every 30 minutes until 2 hours after sunset.
  7. Use your data table to draw a line graph.

Your data table may look like this:

Time Temperature of light color hose Temperature of dark color house

20:00 means 8:00 p.m.

Picture shows a very simple model house prior to painting the exterior of the house.

Use the model houses that you make as a part of your display.


If you are doing this experiment indoor or in a cloudy winter day, you can use two identical light bulbs to simulate the sunlight. Flood lights with reflector are best for such experiment. Mount the flood lights about 2 feet away from the houses.

Other experiments For Other Hypotheses

Two color curtains: If you think that two layer curtain can be used to preserve heat, following is a procedure for your experiment:

Get two pieces of cotton cloth, one white and the other black and sew them back to back to make a curtain that one side of that is white and the other side is black. The size of the curtain can be about one square foot.

Build two model houses about one cubic foot each or use two boxes about this size.

Cut a large window on one of the walls and cover it with a sheet of clear Plexiglas.

Paint the interior and exterior of both boxes with the same light paint.
Hang the curtain on the window of one of two houses, black side facing outside.

Insert or mount a thermometer in each house so you can read the temperature of the inside of the houses.

Place both houses outside under the sun for about two hours where the windows are faced to the sun.

Record the temperatures of both houses every 10 minutes.

Heat Retention by water: If your hypothesis is that water can be used to retain heat during the day and release the stored heat at night, you may use this experiment:

Get two identical plastic bottles and one plastic bag that is a little larger than one of the bottles. It is best if you use a black or dark color plastic bottle for this experiment. You may also paint both bottles with black color if they are not already a dark color.

Fill up the plastic bag with water and then push one empty plastic bottle into the plastic bag, align the edges of the bag with the neck of the bottle and wrap a string around the plastic and the neck of the bottle to hold them together tightly. In this way your empty plastic bottle is surrounded by water of the plastic bag.

Insert one thermometer in each of the plastic bottles and seal the neck of the bottle with some cotton.

Place both plastic bottles outdoor under the sun.

Make an initial observation and additional observations every 30 minutes for four hours and record the temperature.

Move both bottles indoor, to a cold place and continue your observation and recording every 30 minutes for another four hours.

It is expected that the temperature rise in the water bottle at a slower rate. Also the temperature will drop at a slower rate when you move the bottles to a cold space.

In a real building, a pool of water can be in the basement. Black painted piped or radiators in the sunny side of the building can absorb heat and warm up their water content. Heated water is lighter, so it will move up, causing a continues flow of water. Heated water will be drown to the pool and cold water will be sucked in to the heating pipes.

At night, the water of the pool and pipes gradually release their stored heat and keep the house warm.

I don’t know if such an idea have ever been used in a real building. It seems to me that this is an expensive, but practical idea.

Materials and Equipment:

Prepare a list of material that you actually used for your experiment and write it in this section of your report.

Results of Experiment (Observation):

Experiments are often done in series. A series of experiments can be done by changing one variable a different amount each time. A series of experiments is made up of separate experimental “runs.” During each run you make a measurement of how much the variable affected the system under study. For each run, a different amount of change in the variable is used. This produces a different amount of response in the system. You measure this response, or record data, in a table for this purpose. This is considered “raw data” since it has not been processed or interpreted yet. When raw data gets processed mathematically, for example, it becomes results.


No calculation is required for this project; however, if you do any calculations, write your calculations with necessary comments in this section of your report.

Summary of Results:

Summarize what happened. This can be in the form of a table of processed numerical data, or graphs. It could also be a written statement of what occurred during experiments.

It is from calculations using recorded data that tables and graphs are made. Studying tables and graphs, we can see trends that tell us how different variables cause our observations. Based on these trends, we can draw conclusions about the system under study. These conclusions help us confirm or deny our original hypothesis. Often, mathematical equations can be made from graphs. These equations allow us to predict how a change will affect the system without the need to do additional experiments. Advanced levels of experimental science rely heavily on graphical and mathematical analysis of data. At this level, science becomes even more interesting and powerful.


Using the trends in your experimental data and your experimental observations, try to answer your original questions. Is your hypothesis correct? Now is the time to pull together what happened, and assess the experiments you did.

Related Questions & Answers:

What you have learned may allow you to answer other questions. Many questions are related. Several new questions may have occurred to you while doing experiments. You may now be able to understand or verify things that you discovered when gathering information for the project. Questions lead to more questions, which lead to additional hypothesis that need to be tested.

Possible Errors:

If you did not observe anything different than what happened with your control, the variable you changed may not affect the system you are investigating. If you did not observe a consistent, reproducible trend in your series of experimental runs there may be experimental errors affecting your results. The first thing to check is how you are making your measurements. Is the measurement method questionable or unreliable? Maybe you are reading a scale incorrectly, or maybe the measuring instrument is working erratically.

If you determine that experimental errors are influencing your results, carefully rethink the design of your experiments. Review each step of the procedure to find sources of potential errors. If possible, have a scientist review the procedure with you. Sometimes the designer of an experiment can miss the obvious.


List of References

U.S. Department of Energy