In a climate where we can experience some uncomfortably hot days in summer and icy cold days in winter, controlling the climate in your home is important; but running the air conditioner all day can be a costly affair. That’s where passive design comes in to minimise active temperature practices. At Insulation Essentials, we believe that construction and passive design go hand in hand to create sustainable and cost-efficient solutions. If you’re considering the construction of a new home or significant renovations of an existing one, then our Melbourne-based insulation experts urge you to keep reading and discover the elements of a passively designed home.
Choosing the right materials — thermal mass
Passive design is all about leveraging the environment to create a comfortable ecosystem within your home and it all starts with the materials your home is built with — or, more specifically, the material’s thermal mass. Thermal mass is a material’s ability to absorb and store heat; the higher the thermal mass, the more efficient the material. Examples of materials with high thermal mass include concrete and bricks (which is why double-brick is considered one of the best materials for homes).
Thermal mass may sound familiar to you because it’s the same principle that applies to insulation — the heat is trapped within the material and slowly released over time. If it’s hot outside, then its penetration into your home is slowed and if it’s cold outside then the heat within your home is confined as much as possible — slowly leaking out.
If you want to venture a step further, then you should consider sustainable materials; which use considerably fewer resources during their creation compared to virgin materials. Many varieties of reclaimed wood, for example, hold a rustic aesthetic — making them desirable and suitable for certain applications within a home.
Positioning your home correctly — climate considerations
Going beyond materials, the climate is key in the passive design of your home. Orientation, for example, is everything when considering a home’s passive capabilities. You may have heard the term “north-facing” being used when talking about windows in homes and that’s because a north-facing window or balcony can take in the full force of the sun in the morning — heating it up effectively on cold mornings without the need for active air conditioning.
Shading your home — the other side of the climate coin
Of course, if you’re constantly receiving the sun’s full exposure throughout the colder weather then the same will apply for the warmer weather, which is why proper shading is crucial to offset the effects. Heavy curtains, retractable outdoor coverings and thick blinds are highly effective and go a long way in mitigating the heat from the sun in the summer, for example. This is the other side of the climate coin; you have to be prepared for both types of weather.
Solar panels — renewable energy
Ask any Melbourne-based insulation expert, a passively designed home is extremely effective and beneficial across the board. But sometimes you may need that extra push during extreme weather events. This is where solar panels can be effective whilst still staying within the same eco-friendly realm as passive design.
Tapping into the orientation aspect once more, solar panels should be strategically positioned to absorb the full force of the sun’s rays throughout the day. This energy is then stored in batteries that can be used instead of your city’s main power grid. When you do need that extra heating or cooling, you’ll be using a green, renewable source to complement your passive design.
Quality insulation — the driving force
No matter how your house is oriented or what climate you’re in, choosing the right insulation is the driving force of every passively designed home and will give you unparalleled return year after year both financially and comfort-wise. Insulation also offers soundproofing and weatherproofing properties (dependant on the variety you choose) and is available for all areas of your home both internally and externally.
Insulation Essentials — The Melbourne insulation professionals
With several different types of insulation materials and R-values designed specifically for our Australian climate, you’ll be spoilt for choice at Insulation Essentials. We offer a range of wall, ceiling and underfloor insulation as well as accessories to suit your every need. Not sure what solution is right for you? Consult one of our friendly specialists today for expert advice.
We’ll even deliver and install the insulation ourselves. If you’re building a new home or undergoing some major renovations, then we highly recommend you consider a passive design moving forward and working with an architect who specialises in the field for the best environmental and financial result.
Give us a call on 03 8339 7111 or fill out our online contact form if you would like to know more.