Har­ness the sun’s en­ergy

Add en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors to house plan

Sunshine Coast Daily - Caloundra Weekly - - ADVERTISING FEATURE -

A HOME should be de­signed as a shel­ter from harsh weather con­di­tions. It should also be de­signed to take ad­van­tage of the en­vi­ron­ment.

A sus­tain­able home has pas­sive and ac­tive el­e­ments which make the most of the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment.

Pas­sive so­lar de­sign

Pas­sive de­sign is built into a house.

It is pas­sive in the sense that no ac­tive tech­nol­ogy is in­volved, but the de­sign helps keep a home cooler in sum­mer and warmer in win­ter.

There are seven el­e­ments to a pas­sively de­signed home: Ori­en­ta­tion Spa­tial zon­ing Ther­mal mass Ven­ti­la­tion In­su­la­tion Shad­ing Glaz­ing

A north-fac­ing home will take ad­van­tage of sun­light.

When the right shad­ing is in­cluded in the de­sign, the home will be shaded from the hot sum­mer sun, but the win­ter sun will be able to en­ter the home and warm it.

Spa­cial zon­ing refers to the uses you put dif­fer­ent rooms of the house to and where to lo­cate them in re­la­tion to the ori­en­ta­tion of the home.

Ther­mal mass has to do with the ma­te­ri­als used.

Brick ab­sorbs heat dur­ing the day and re­leases it into the home at night. In a hot cli­mate, this can make the home more un­com­fort­able.

Walls fac­ing the hot sun should be well in­su­lated to pre­vent this from oc­cur­ring or you may want to con­sider us­ing a ma­te­rial with a lower ther­mal mass, such as tim­ber.

Glaz­ing al­lows nat­u­ral light to en­ter the home, but sin­gle glazed win­dows also al­low heat and cold to en­ter the home, so a pas­sively de­signed home will have dou­ble glazed win­dows or an­other win­dow treat­ment that min­imises heat trans­fer­ence.

Sky­lights are an­other type of glaz­ing that can make a home more com­fort­able and en­ergy-ef­fi­cient.

They can be in­stalled in an ex­ist­ing home to help give it more nat­u­ral light, im­prove ven­ti­la­tion and re­duce de­pen­dence on elec­tric light­ing. For in­for­ma­tion about the types of sky­lights that are avail­able and their costs, read how much does a sky­light cost.

Pas­sive ven­ti­la­tion takes ad­van­tage of out­side air con­di­tions to cre­ate a more com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment.

Com­bined, the seven el­e­ments of pas­sive de­sign can greatly re­duce your de­pen­dence on green­house gas emit­ting sources of en­ergy.

Ac­tive so­lar de­sign

Ac­tive so­lar de­sign sys­tems in­clude so­lar pan­els for gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity and so­lar wa­ter heaters.

While so­lar pan­els and so­lar wa­ter heaters are more ex­pen­sive to buy and in­stall, they have come down in price and are more ef­fi­cient than in the past.

The pay­back pe­riod for them has been short­ened and they last longer than in the past.

While your ini­tial out­lay will be high, you will be paid back in the form of re­duced en­ergy bills and when you go be­yond the pay­back pe­riod, you save money for the life of the sys­tem.

Pas­sive so­lar de­sign el­e­ments can be added to any ex­ist­ing home, but if you re-build­ing or do­ing a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion, look for a sus­tain­able build­ing de­signer who can max­imise all the el­e­ments of pas­sive de­sign into your new home.

A sus­tain­able home doesn’t have to be more ex­pen­sive than a home that isn’t pas­sively de­signed and any ex­tra money spent will come back to you in the form of re­duced en­ergy bills.

Add ac­tive so­lar de­sign el­e­ments and it is pos­si­ble to cre­ate a zero emis­sions or near zero emis­sions home.



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