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9 Ways to Achieve a More Energy Efficient Home

There is no denying a cultural shift towards environmentally sustainable design approaches in almost all of our daily activities. Conscious, ethically driven decisions around everyday consumption have become a focus in our buying and living choices.

When considering sustainable architecture, a design approach to consider is Passive Design. A core philosophy of Adapt Architecture designs and one that will improve your home’s environmental performance, reduce living costs and provide all year-round comfort.

There are nine key principles to follow when considering Passive Design:

1. Design for Climate

Designing your home or building to suit the local climate zone ensures a comfortable temperature range with less need for mechanical heating or cooling.

2. Orientation

The layout of rooms is key to taking advantage of ‘free energy’ provided by sunlight and breezes. Ideally in Australia, primary living spaces should face north for natural light and solar gain benefits

3. Shading

Effective shading of outdoor spaces, walls, and glazing is essential to control heat gain and temperatures, improve comfort and saves energy. Typical methods of shading are eaves, awnings, pergolas and landscaping.

4. Passive solar heating

Passive solar heating is the cheapest way to heat a building, allowing winter sun to naturally heat during colder months, and shades from harsher sun during the summer.

5. Passive cooling

Passive cooling can be equally as inexpensive as passive solar heating! Appropriate ventilation, air movement, shading and thermal mass all contribute to a natural cool and comfortable home in the warmer months.

6. Building Sealing

Air leakages are a main contributor to the need for mechanical heating. Appropriate building sealing around openings, lights and junctions is a very effective, low cost way to improve your home’s energy efficiency and easily applied to new homes or retrospectively.

7. Insulation

The correct type of insulation and method of installation combined with a well sealed building is central to managing the ideal comfort in your home year round. Installing insulation to avoid gaps is essential to maximizing performance and avoiding leaks.

8. Thermal Mass

Thermal Mass is a material’s capacity to store heat energy. Concrete and brick are two commonly used materials with excellent thermal mass properties, as a lot of heat energy is needed to change their temperature. This heat energy naturally balances day and night temperatures. The right use and placement of thermal mass materials is critical for a positive outcome. Poor use can intensify climate extremes.

9. Glazing

Windows and doors play important and necessary roles in good passive design. Glazing allows light, views, fresh air and connect indoor and outdoor spaces. Although windows are essential, glazing is your home’s greatest source of heat gain and loss. Optimum positioning, orientation, shading and glazing type (i.e. single, double and low-e glazing) is central to the performance of your home

Although each principle has its own value, the balance of all passive design principles will achieve the best result. They complement each other so you can benefit from:

  • All year-round comfort without reliance on mechanical heating and cooling

  • Lower costs. A naturally comfortable and consistent temperature means low power bill

  • A smaller carbon footprint. A home designed for energy efficiency uses less fossil fuel to heat, cool and light your home

  • Pleasant spaces for living, sleep and working

For more information on passive design, how it can be applied to your current home, or if you are thinking of designing a new home accordingly, get in touch!

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