When designing a home or a renovation, one of the principal objectives for a building designer or architect should be that it is a comfortable living space during winter and summer. At the same time, it should also be an energy efficient home when it comes to heating and cooling.
Approximately 35% – 40% of an average household’s energy consumption is used for heating and/or cooling to achieve thermal comfort for the occupants. This rate could be cut to almost zero when designing a new energy efficient home or at the very least it can be substantially less than the 40%.
Australia has a national rating scheme known as NatHERS which assesses the potential thermal comfort of a home. The greater the number of stars attributed to a home means that the home will require less heating and / or cooling energy to keep the occupants comfortable.
Along the coast for that stretch of land between Newcastle to the north and Wollongong to the south of Sydney, our weather has four identifiable seasons: summer and winter can exceed human comfort range whilst both spring and autumn are ideal for human comfort.
At Jim Demetriou Group, we use the NatHERS rating scheme as just one of the tools to assist us in designing comfortable homes or when designing a major renovation to an existing home.
Some of the basic considerations that are typically suggested in minimising heating and cooling energy use include;
- Consideration of the site and its orientation and then adapt the new home design or renovation to suit where possible. I usually find this to be my very first consideration when designing any project.
- To reduce heat gain, consider the type, location and size of glazing to be used. Avoid inappropriate use of glazing where possible.
- The use of passive solar heating is always a preferred option where sunlight is readily accessible.
- The use of roof cavities as a thermal buffer zone by ventilating them in summer and sealing them in winter can be an excellent tool when used correctly.
- Use passive solar shading on northerly windows and shade all east and west-facing glass in summer (design in such a way that you always have control as to how much sunlight enters your home)
- Use bulk and reflective insulation in ceilings, and bulk or reflective insulation in all walls where possible. This is good value for money spent.
- Ensure all spaces are effectively air sealed (eg doors, windows and even below a skirting when timber floors frames are involved). This will assist in heat loss during the winter months
- Use ceiling fans (reversible if possible) in all living and sleeping areas.
- Choose light coloured roof materials which will have the effect of reflecting rather than absorbing heat.
So it is important to make sure that your building designer or architect designs your new home or renovation using energy efficient principals in order to give you a comfortable space in winter and summer and you don’t end up with high energy bills.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss your project with you.