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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.
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.
READ MORE: WINDOW COVERINGS THAT COMPLETE YOUR HOME
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.
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.