Get your orientation right for the site.
Orientation is one of the most important aspects to get right for a sustainable home. This is the positioning of a building to take advantage of seasonal variations and local climates. A home with good orientation and passive design maximises the sun’s heat or allows for variable breezes which can reduce or even eliminate the need for mechanical heating and cooling (about 40 per cent of energy use in the average Australian home). For climates that require winter heating, a north-facing home is ideal since this maximises sunlight during the day and maintains a more comfortable temperature within. However, a house in the tropics is better served by sites and designs that limit sun exposure and allow cooling breezes to be funnelled through the building. If you’re renovating, changing rooms around to take passive design into account may help to improve the liveability and energy efﬁciency of your home.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOME MORE ECO-RESPONSIBLE
Photo courtesy Skookom
Maximise solar performance with internal and external shading.
Photo courtesy Coastland Builders
Internal and external shading of your windows has a big impact on the heating and cooling of your home. An unshaded window can make a room many degrees hotter for several hours. ABC TV’s Gardening Australia WA presenter Josh Byrne says external shading is an effective way to keep out the summer heat. ‘If you’ve got a window being blasted by the western sun, put up a shade sail or an external blind on the outside, [which ensures] you can still catch breezes when they’re available.’ (Read more about Josh on p.46.) For north- facing windows, shading such as eaves should be designed to block the summer sun and allow winter sun in, while shading for east- and west-facing windows should be low over the window and removable in winter, such as awning blinds. However, if your budget is limited, builder Chris Knierim of Code Green suggests investing in blinds or heavy drapes to shade your windows. ‘[Be mindful] you don’t stop your curtain half-way up your wall though,’ he says, ‘as that will allow the heat to transfer underneath.’