In Australia, we are always bombarded with extreme climates, that then requires us to invest in expensive heating and cooling to maintain a comfortable temperature. Did you know, that 40% of the energy costs of the average Australian home is spent on cooling or heating, battling the natural climate.
Australians are now turning to Passive Design to reduce costs and carbon emissions. Most established Australian homes are designed with form over function. Building a new home affords the opportunity to design a home with efficiency in mind from ground-up.
What is Passive Design?
‘Passive design’ is design that takes advantage of the climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range in the home. Passive design reduces or eliminates the need for auxiliary heating or cooling, which accounts for about 40% (or much more in some climates) of energy use in the average Australian home.
What are the elements of Passive Design?
A great resource when consulting a builder is ‘Your Home’ – A Guide To Environmentally Sustainable Homes: https://www.yourhome.gov.au/passive-design.
When choosing the right block for your new home, we suggest you choose a site that has the potential for both cooling and heating orientation.
For the winter & autumn months making use of natural light to keep your home warm can be achieved with northern facing windows to capture solar heat. With summer temperatures reaching 30-40°c, good orientation is key with western walls and windows requiring shade in summer to keep the house cool. Good orientation can also mean considering the placement of solar panels and the year-round path of the sun when installing.
Correctly insulating a home creates a barrier that directs temperature flow while also weather-proofing and sound-proofing your home. To be 100% effective, insultation requires pockets of air to capture heat.
When designing a home, you may want to consider the thermal mass of the materials you are choosing. Thermal mass is a property of the mass building which enables it to store heat, providing “inertia” against temperature fluctuations. For example, high thermal mass materials such as bricks and tiles have heat storage capacity, whereas lighter weight materials such as timber will not store as much heat. One material may be cheaper initially, but a more expensive alternative may save you money in the long-run.
Skylights provide an excellent and attractive source of natural light, that will help you save on power. Skylights can also be a fantastic way to gain heat in winter. When installing a skylight, and placed correctly, you can create an excellent open feeling and provide three times the light that a standard, traditional window can give. However, if you plan on building your dream home in a more intense climate, then it may be best to avoid too many skylights for the same reason.
Sealing your home:
Sealing a home is a simple fix for both new and existing homes, in order to keep a consistent temperature. The more extreme the outdoor temperature, the more a home stands to benefit from fully sealing air leaks. With air leaks, it can contribute to a 25% variance in temperature if there is a large difference between inside and outdoor temperature.
Glazing your windows is only a small investment, however, it has a big potential payoff in temperature control. It can be a major source of heat retention in winter, however it will also result in unwanted heat retention in summer. More than 80% of your home’s heat can be gained through glazing, if you live in a cooler area, it is definitely worth the investment.
If you already have an established home or buying a home off-the-plan, there are still some small changes you can make to increase your home’s energy efficiency.
- Add Solar Heating – use the power of the sun to reduce costs and emissions.
- Add Shade – adding extra shading (green walls, awning or shutters) will keep your house cooler and more comfortable.
- Replace Windows – If you have older windows with gaps, it may be time to upgrade with a tighter sealed style.
- Seal your Doors – Adding sealants to the frame and underneath your doors can help keep areas of your house at a consistent temperature.
After further advice and assistance for designing and building your dream home?
If you are after further advice and assistance for designing and building your dream home, we are only a phone call/email away!
With our combined experience of 40 years, designing and building homes is of nature to us. So let us educate or show you how we can make this process fun, affordable and stress free for you.