Passive home design: why you should do it

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Exterior house ideaIf you’re planning on building a new home, you should consider the benefits of passive home design. Not only can you significantly reduce your electricity bills, but you can enjoy the natural benefits of an environmentally sustainable home.

Passive home design is a buzzword in the housing industry of late. Essentially it is a construction concept that takes advantage of the natural climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range within your home.

If you’re thinking of building or renovating to make your home more sustainable, then passive design may be the solution for you.

Passive design reduces or eliminates the need for additional heating or cooling, which, according to Australian government website Your Home, “accounts for about 40% (or much more in some climates) of energy use in the average Australian home”.

This essentially means cheaper bills. Sounds wonderful, right?

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To work effectively, passive design requires both a well-designed home to achieve the desired results, as well as active participation from the owner. If you know where the sun rises and when it sets, and are committed to adjusting the shades and taking measures to lock in heat or cool temperatures during those times, then passive design may be right for you.

So what kinds of things can you do to ensure your home takes advantage of our natural climate?

Seal your doors and windows

Air can escape through doors and window gaps, and this can dramatically affect temperatures inside a home. Passive construction seeks to conceal these gaps to ‘lock in’ thermal temperatures for maximum comfort.

Check your window quality

Not all glass is the same, and the quality of your windows can mean the difference in your electricity bill from wasted heating costs. Good quality glazed windows emit less cold air than cheap ones. If you’re building or looking to replace your windows, opt for the thicker and more expensive glass – it could save you money over time.

inspirationKnow when to shade

Direct sun can generate the same heat as a single bar radiator over each square metre of a surface, according to Your Home. By shading your home properly, you can effectively block up to 90% of this heat.

So how do you do it? Start by ensuring windows have appropriate cover when it is needed. And be creative – it doesn’t need to be a blockout awning; it could be as simple as planting a tree outside, or adding curtains, shutters or a pergola.

Think about the effect the shading will have on the property before you decide to do it. For example, a flat roof pergola out the back may block natural sunlight to the home, while a slat-roof pergola may be able to make the most of the sun’s rays during the day in order to warm the home for those cooler nights.

Try solar heating

Solar heating has significantly reduced in price over the last 10 years due to increased demand, better technology and stronger competition. These days, many companies offer solar heating to residences.

If you’re building, you might want to consider passive solar heating, which uses the northerly face of daytime living areas and other factors to maximise the heat within the home.

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With such great benefits, passive design is definitely something worth considering. If you need further advice or simply want to find out how to make passive design work on your budget, you can find accredited experts on the Passive House Australia directory.

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