Have you considered passive design for your home?

Passive home design refers to any device or structure that takes advantage of the surrounding environment, climate or elements to help passively heat, cool and light your home, supplementing the use of active temperature-control systems.

Passive homes offer a huge range of benefits to home buyers, including more access to natural light, reduced heating and cooling costs, and better ventilation.

Hotondo Homes Building Designer Adrian Knowles says all of these aspects provide the inhabitants with a much higher quality of life and reduced operational costs.

“When you walk into a well-designed passive home there is a good feeling associated with it, even if you don’t know why,” Adrian says.

There are several factors to consider when building a passive home.


The orientation of your home on your block of land is the first and most vital step in creating a passive home.

“Without sufficient orientation it becomes quite challenging to address the passive requirements of a home,” Adrian says.

Ideally, main living areas should be north-facing to catch most of the sun during the day and provide your home with plenty of natural light, while bedrooms should be east-facing, to provide sun in the morning as you wake. Utility rooms such as a laundry or garage are great on the west as they provide an additional insulation buffer to your living areas.



Eaves have two main purposes; to protect and shelter the windows and walls of a building, and to help control the amount of sunlight that enters the home.

Eaves work in conjunction with the altitude and angle of the suns path throughout the seasons and year. Properly installed eaves will allow a maximum amount of light and heat to enter your home in winter, while blocking it out in summer to keep your home cooler.

Suncalc.com can help you calculate the path of the sun from your very own home. Consult with your builder to work out the best orientation for your home in order to fully utilise the use of eaves.


passive home



Properly insulating your home can help cut heating and cooling costs. Cavities in the walls and ceilings of a home is filled with material that helps keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Make sure when you are building your home the insulation is installed correctly.

“Insulation plays a vital role in controlling the internal temperature independently of the external temperature,” Adrian says.

Double-glazing your windows is another option for a passive home. According to Dowell, as much as 49% of heat lost during winter and 87% of heat gained in summer can come from the windows. Double-glazing can help reduce these figures and your heating and cooling bills.





Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy. Materials with a high thermal mass such as concrete, brick and tiles can absorb heat during a summer day and release it at night to help regulate your home temperature. This also works in winter, where it stores heat during the day to be released at night to help warm your home.

“Thermal mass is all about using the right materials in the right locations,” Adrian says.

“It is really helpful to be able to utilise the stored heat from a thermal mass when there is a significant difference in the day and night temperatures around your home.”

An exposed brick wall is a great retainer of heat.

passive home


In order to have a passive home that will generate energy savings and provide a comfortable environment, these principles need to work together cohesively. The very shape, style and orientation of your block all need to be considered during the design phase, which is something that should be discussed in detail with your builder. There are also free 3D modelling programs such as SketchUp Make which can help provide you with a visual tool of how the sun will affect your home.


For more information on passive home design, speak to your local Hotondo Homes builder today.

Few people realise the difference window coverings can make to your home.

Not only are there valuable energy-related benefits, but beautiful curtains, blinds or shutters can make a room look ‘complete.’

These days, there is a huge range of window coverings you can choose for your home. Brett Martin of Dollar Curtains & Blinds says the two most important factors when choosing your window coverings should be deciding what kind of interior design you want, and what kind of functionality you need.

“Different rooms in a home can require very different coverings,” Brett says. “These days it is quite common to mix and match blinds and curtains to suit the individual needs of each room. This can look especially good when done correctly.”

We have listed some of the most popular window coverings below to help you decide which window coverings would be best for your home.


Shutters have grown in popularity over the past few years, and for good reason. They are easy to clean, block light well and look amazing.

“Shutters are a great feature for your home,” Brett says. “Some people opt for shutters at just the front of the home for street appeal. Shutters look attractive from both inside and outside, and they can actually add value to your home, unlike some other options. Consider them an investment if you like!”

window coverings



If you are unsure what you need in a home, blinds are a great choice. Available in a huge range of colours and fabrics including blockout, sunscreen, translucent and sheer, blinds are a budget-friendly choice. They can control light, they block out heat and glare in summer and retain heat in winter and can disappear whenever you want to open up the room.

window coverings


Roller Blinds

Roller or Roman blinds are well suited to a modern-look home. For functionality, Brett recommends dual roller blinds.

“A popular trend at the moment is to use dual roller blinds,” Brett says. “Having one blockout blind and one sheer blind means you can still enjoy views during the day, and have complete privacy and darkness at night.”

window coverings


Vertical Blinds

Vertical blinds allow you to rotate the direction of sunlight into the room. Ideal for large windows with long drops, they can be stacked to one side or to the centre, depending on what you prefer.

window coverings


Panel Blinds

The ideal solution for sliding doors, panel blinds offer a modern alternative to vertical blinds. With large panels that slide from side to side, they stack at the end to keep the room open when you need it.

“Panel blinds can be matched to your roller blinds to help create some consistency through the home,” Brett adds. “But people should be careful, they don’t block out light 100%.”

window coverings



For a stunning visual impact, curtains come in a range of colours, patterns and fabrics. With multiple headings (the way the drape is made) and tracks to choose from, customising a curtain to suit your home is a great way to complete your interior.

window coverings


Drapes can add warmth and elegance to your home. Great at reducing outdoor noise levels, they also have the added advantage of staying cooler in summer than other window treatments. These days there are many modern alternative curtains you can choose, with plenty of colours and patterns that will help block out most light.

window coverings


Additional extras

window coverings


Sheer Curtains

If you have home with a beautiful view you do not want to obstruct, sheer curtains may be the way to go. Sheers defuse sunlight which can soften your home, while still being able to see outdoors.

“A lot of people opt for a blind with a wavefold sheer curtain over the top to get that good balance of privacy and openness,” Brett says. “It is a very delicate look, and it ticks all the boxes for both appearance and functionality.”

window coverings



Homes are becoming more automated and technological in every way, and so too has the curtain industry. Motorised blinds can be controlled with just the touch of a button, eliminating the need for cords and chains.

“Motorised blinds are great if you have a skylight or windows set too high to reach,” Brett says. “They can also be used on alpha awnings or bistro blinds which can be used on your patio or alfresco space. It adds just a touch of luxury to your home.”

window coverings


For more information on choosing the right window coverings for you, contact Dollar Curtains & Blinds today.

Save money on your bills with these easy steps.

The keys are in your hand. You are ready to step into your brand new home. All those costs associated with it are finally paid, and now all you have left is the hefty mortgage you don’t want to think about – or so you think.

Unfortunately, new home owners can forget the cost of maintaining and living in a home. Water, electricity and gas bills, council rates and even home repairs for older homes can all have a significant and possibly unforeseen impact on your carefully devised budget.

Never fear though, we have put together a quick guide on ways to save money on your bills and help with the overall cost of your new home.


Install LED light bulbs and in the long-run you will save money on your electricity bill. A standard halogen light turns up to 90% of electricity used into heat, and only 10% into light. An LED light however only uses 15% of the energy a halogen uses, and provides up to 85% of the light output. LED lighting also has a longer lifespan, making them well worth the investment.


Ceiling fans are a low-cost, low-energy way to keep the air circulating in your home. If used in conjunction with an air conditioner, you can actually lower the temperature by a degree or two of the air con. This can lead to some surprising savings! While using a ceiling fan in summer is common practice, many people are unaware you can actually utilise them during winter too. Switch your fan into reverse, and hot air trapped near your ceiling will be redistributed to the floor. Remember to keep it on a low setting!


Plant deciduous trees – ones that lose their leaves in autumn/winter – on the west and east sides of your home. These trees will naturally cool your home is summer and allow sunshine through during winter. Be careful to plant them a safe distance from your home and power lines.


Everyone knows that a clothes dryer will eat up your power bill. If you are willing to give up the convenience, hang a line in your laundry and use it for at least some items. Even better would be hanging it outside where a natural breeze will do all the work. A load here or there will still save money!


We have mentioned the benefits of energy efficient appliances several times on this blog, however it doesn’t make it any less true. While they may be a more expensive upfront cost, energy efficient appliances will save you money in the long run and will help keep your hip-pocket happy.

Commonly used in European restaurants and homes, INDUCTION cooking is known for convenience, flexibility and safety.  According to experts, it accomplishes the task of sautéing, simmering and frying faster, safer and with less energy than that of its electric and gas counterparts.
With so many new home builders fitting their homes with INDUCTION cooktops, we wanted to know what all the fuss was about.  Shriro’s Victorian Sales Manager and resident INDUCTION go-to-girl, Carolyn Hannaford weighs in on the benefits of INDUCTION technology.


black-and-white-close-view-of-inductionHow do INDUCTION cooktops work?

“INDUCTION works through the transfer of magnetic energy to generate heat.  By using ferrous cookware the stovetop reacts to the connection, causing ‘induced’ currents.  The heat is then distributed evenly on the base of the pan, which allows food to cook evenly and efficiently.  To see if your current cookware can work with INDUCTION, simply place a magnet on the bottom, if it sticks it’s INDUCTION ready.”

How safe is INDUCTION in comparison to other cooktops?

“INDUCTION cooktops are the only form of cooking that does not require a heat source from a flame or from an element.  This makes it extremely safe as the only surface that is getting hot is the pot itself.  When you remove your pot from the cooking surface, there is minimal residual heat left and the cooktop immediately goes into standby mode, which means that it’s not drawing any additional power.  No heat is generated without the magnetic connection from the compatible cookware.  This makes INDUCTION the safest cooktop on the market.”

How energy efficient is INDUCTION technology?

“INDUCTION cooktops are more energy efficient than gas or traditional electric cooktops.  The heat is only distributed when a magnetic field is created, and the heat that is generated is proportional to the size of the pan.  Because it’s so quick and efficient you are spending less time at the cooktop.  When we compared INDUCTION to gas and electric cooktops; gas is 50% efficient, electric is 65% efficient, whilst INDUCTION is 95% energy efficient!” READ: What is a Smart Home?

Are INDUCTION stovetops easy to clean?

“Because there is no heat generated under the glass, if there is a spill it generally doesn’t bake onto the glass surface.  If by chance you do have a spill, simply lift the pot and wipe it away with a damp cloth.  There is no additional components, like trivets or burners that require additional care.  It’s as simple as using a warm soapy cloth to maintain its appearance.”

How much do INDUCTION cooktops cost?

“The initial cost of purchasing an INDUCTION cooktop may be slightly higher than the traditional cooktops we’ve all grown up with, however the investment you make will serve you and your family for years to come.”

Things to consider before switching the heat…

“You may need to consider power connections.  Most induction cooktops generally require a connection to a higher power supply.  There also may be some cookware in your cupboards that won’t work.  Make sure you do the INDUCTION test to see if your aluminium, copper, glass and earthen ware are INDUCTION compatible.”


To see if your current cookware can work with INDUCTION, simply place a magnet on the bottom and if it sticks it’s INDUCTION ready!


Omega INDUCTION stovetop



Carolyn Hannaford is the State Commercial Sales Manager at Shriro for brands, Blanco, Omega and Everdure.  To view their complete range visit their website: shriro.com.au