Passive Design reduces or removes the need for artificial cooling and heating (which accounts for about 40% of energy use in the average Aussie home) and instead takes advantage of the natural climate to maintain thermal comfort.
By using clever designing principles, you can drastically reduce energy use and environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions.
Below are a few things you should consider:
The orientation of your home is crucial in taking advantage of climatic features. Main living areas should be oriented north so that the summer sun is excluded but winter sun is allowed in to keep the house warm. This will make your home more comfortable and cheaper to run.
Preventing summer sun from directly hitting windows is one of the most effective ways to reduce summer heat from negatively impacting on thermal performance. Eaves or other shading devices should be incorporated to offer shading from the summer sun and allow winter sun to enter.
Passive heating and cooling
Passive solar heating and passive cooling are the most cost effective ways to maintain a comfortable temperate in your home. Passive solar heating keeps heat inside in winter and allows any built up heat to escape in summer.
Passive cooling techniques need to cool both the house and the people in it — with elements such as air movement, evaporative cooling and thermal mass.
A well-insulated home provides year-round comfort, cutting cooling and heating bills and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is imperative that premium insulation is achieved and that all gaps are filled to keep wanted air in and unwanted air out.
Thermal mass is the ability of a material to store heat from the sun during the day and then give thermal energy back when the surroundings are cooler. High density materials such as concrete, brick and tiles require a lot of energy to change temperature and are therefore ideal for thermal mass.
Glazed windows offer a great source of light and air flow but can also be a major source of unwanted heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Some of the things to consider when selecting the right glazing system are the orientation of your home, your climate and the size and location of windows. You can also check the energy performance of different window products by visiting the Window Energy Rating website www.wers.net.
Skylights are an excellent source of natural light. They admit much more light than vertical windows of the same size and can improve natural ventilation. However, you will need to consider sizing and spacing of your skylight to avoid unwanted heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter.
There are a lot of varying factors depending on your specific circumstances. Something that may be suitable for one home may not be suitable for the next. We strongly suggest discussing your individual circumstances with a professional before making any decisions. With tailored advice and the right design you will be able to achieve optimum thermal comfort, low energy bills and low greenhouse gas emissions.