In Australia, our unique climate tends to affect every aspect of our lives, so it simply makes sense to develop our homes to work in harmony with the conditions around us. Incorporating passive solar design principles into new home designs to take advantage of sunlight and airstream patterns can minimise the energy and cost required to heat and cool the home, and ensure year-round comfort for the home’s occupants. In planning for passive solar design from the very initial stages of your project, the construction process can be kept within budget and delivered on time without the added cost and stress of avoidable variations.
- Home Orientation
Orientation is perhaps the most important factor of a passive solar home design. If living spaces face towards the north then winter sunlight can stream through the windows and warm up northern walls, keeping the home at a comfortable level with lower costs. In summer, the correct orientation will restrict the amount of heat passing into the home.
Quality insulation can significantly decrease the energy and cost required to keep a home cool in warmer months and warm in cooler months. High-density wall and roof insulation is often well worth the extra expense. Insulation also has the added benefit of improving acoustic properties within the house.
Good ventilation is key to capturing cooling breezes and directing heat out of the home in summer. Consider how the installation of whirlybirds and other ventilation systems can help to cool the home for very little cost and accommodate these in-home plans from early on.
- Creating Shade
Passive solar design centres around capturing or blocking the warmth of the sun at the right times throughout the year and shade plays a vital part in this. Eaves, patios and awnings all assist in minimising heat from reaching the inside of the home during summer, and if angled correctly will not block the winter sun from reaching living spaces. Sail shades and café blinds can help to keep outside areas cool.
Nature provides the ideal conditions to cool down a home – think filtered light and energy-absorbing leaves. Well-positioned vines, grasses and shrubs can help to reduce the thermal absorbency of large expanses of walls. Deciduous plants are ideal in climates that are cooler in winter as the leaves will protect the property in summer then drop when the temperature does, allowing winter sunlight to reach the home.
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