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Heating And Cooling Your Home via Passive Design

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5 Clever Ideas to Utilize Passive Design and Lower Your Heating Bills

We live in a modern world where altering the temperature of your home in not only a matter of the heating system you are using but includes other passive factors. All electric devices nowadays have an energy rating that is showing how energy efficient they are - this applies the most to electric heaters. The good thing is that there is a cheaper heating option - infrared panels and we advise you to check them out. Today, people are informed and know that the higher the rating - the better for them. The national governments of different countries over the globe are even encouraging local households to use more energy efficient methods of heating.

In Australia for example, the Federal government ordered that every new home must met a six star thermal efficiency rating. This new law falls under the NatHERS or the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme and is based on scientific research that was made by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). Based on this research, NatHERS will estimate the energy that is needed to heat your new home on a 0 to 10 stars scale. A result that exceeds six stars passes the government order, is better for the environment and also saves hundreds of dollars from your heating bills.

If you are still not familiar with Passive Design and are thinking of buying a new home, now is the best time to get informed! Check out our 5 Clever Ideas to Utilize Passive Design and Lower Your Heating Bills and reach that 10-star rating. With our help, it is more than possible!

1.The Layout of the House

We need to start with the most vital aspect of your home in terms of passive design - the layout. You need to utilize the natural heat that is coming from the sun. The best option is to have a north-facing layout, but since we are talking about a whole house this is not possible. This is why you need to have, at least, your living rooms facing the sun. Another option is to purchase infrared heaters for the cold rooms and turn them on, when necessary. They don't need time to get warm and are eco-friendly.

A good option is to have an open-plan design for the bigger living areas, so that the sun can reach other rooms that are not facing the north side. Open-plan designs work for cooling down your house as well. Open spaces will allow the cool breeze to circulate around bigger spaces. Nevertheless, keep in mind that, when artificial heating is needed you will need some kind of a barrier to heat up only the needed areas and not the whole house. In short - it is all about planning!

2. Use Solar Energy Wisely

This step can be considered as a sub-step of the layout one. In fact, if your future house is already built then the best way to utilize passive solar design is by making use of your windows, walls and floors in collecting and distributing solar heat.

This method requires a deep analysis on your location’s climate and sun position. Once you know the weather specifics you can think strategically if something can be improved. Luckily, the placement and size of windows can be altered at a later stage if some pro-solar energy changes are needed. Improvement can also be made with the thermal insulation, glazing type, shading and thermal mass.  

Passive Solar Design is actually a generic term and incorporates different sustainable methods and actions that could be taken. Check our next advices as we are going deeper into the matter.

3. Add Thermal Insulation

Proper insulation will help you in both heating your home during the winter and cooling it down during the summer. Modern insulation methods keep the warm air inside your house during the winter, while during the summer they keep the high temperatures outside.

House owners mostly use two types of insulation - bulk and reflective. Bulk insulation is better to be used in colder climates because it prevents convected heat to escape through the walls. This type of insulation is the best option when not loosing heat is your main priority. Reflective insulation, on the other hand, is better to be used in warm climates because of its low ability to radiate heat. So if your main priority is to decrease heat gain, then you should go with this type of insulation.

If you need both functions, the market offers materials that can serve you well in both cases and you should just check their R-value. This R-value determines their resistance to heat flow. 

4. Use Thermal Mass

If you’ve never heard the term – thermal mass is the characteristic or property of a building material to store heat. This method requires knowledge of the materials your home is built from, and their features. For example concrete, bricks and tiles are high-density materials. This means that they are able to take in and store heat during the day, and release it during the night.

On the other hand, less dense materials like some types of wood and Styrofoam do not absorb much solar energy. If you live in a warmer climate you should search for materials that do not absorb solar energy, so that you can cool down your home during the summer. Or course, these solar properties can be treated and changed with various types of coating.

Use this knowledge in your home’s thermal mass design and utilize the local solar energy to the maximum. Improve your comfort levels and lower your electric bill by using less electricity for heating purposes!

5. Proper Ventilation

This method applies to warmer climates when cooling down your home is pursued. The air conditioner doesn’t have to be ON all summer to get a comfortable temperature suitable for normal breathing. If your climate benefits from cool breezes, passive design would mean to utilize them at a full extend.

As you probably know the movement of the wind is towards areas of lower air pressure. It is basically being sucked by it, so it is always a better idea to use large openings to the side with lower pressure of your home. If we apply this rule the other way around – you should put small opening on the windward side. Using this method will save you hundreds of dollars from your electricity bill and you will still feel fine even during the hottest summer days.

Conclusion

If you are now in the process of buying or building a house then you should think about the possibility of heating and cooling your home via passive design. Not only you will have a sustainable home but it will save you tons of money by lowering your electric bill. In addition, if you live in Australia there is a new law that obliges every new homeowner to pass a six star rating.

There are a number of ways to make your home friendly for the environment but in this blog post we’ve gathered the 5 most popular ways to heat and cool down your home via passive design. We’ve included both easy methods that can be done at any moment and actions that should be taken before the house is built. One option that we didn't include in the list is the use of infrared heating, as it is environmentally friendly and uses less electricity than conventional heaters. This blog post contains practical and environment-friendly advice for every situation! Give them a go and do the planet (and your wallet) a favor!

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