When you are building a new home from scratch, it is essential to keep sustainability in mind.

Not only can greener homes last longer,  they may also be able to help you cut down the costs of living. Items such as insulation and solar hot water systems can help you to lower your energy and water bills.

What is passive design?

In order to create a more comfortable yet eco-friendly home, it is essential to make the most of all the natural elements at your disposal.

Passive design means your home should be designed or modified to ensure you work with – rather than against – the climate in order to make your home as energy efficient as possible.

Why is orientation important?

The orientation of your home can make all the difference where your natural cooling and heating bills are concerned. You should plan to let the sun in during the cooler winter months and shut it out when the mercury creeps back up again in order to keep indoor temperatures cool. Homes should ideally face south in the northern hemisphere and north in the southern hemisphere in order to maximise the sun’s rays.

Good ventilation is also important as this can ensure your home can be cooled down in the summer.

When installing a solar hot water system it is important to consider which way the evacuated tubes will point. In Australia, it is best if these are angled north in order to make the most of the sun. However, these units are designed to make the most of the morning, midday and afternoon sun and are able to save you up to 80 per cent on your water heating bills.

Why should you consider shading?

Direct sun is helpful in the winter and can help you create more hot water, but it is important to consider shading when building or renovating.

In the summer you may want to reduce your indoor temperatures and improve comfort in your home as well as make savings on your energy costs. Trees can be used to create shade, but it is important to bear in mind whether vegetation could grow above your solar hot water system, preventing it from heating up with the sun.

Shading glass can be used to prevent unwanted heat gain but can block the sun in winter. You could consider painting your interior walls a darker colour as this can prevent summer heat from being reflected back into your home and being trapped inside.

Another option to consider is horizontal shading that can be installed above your windows.

Why is it important to seal your home?

Sealing your home from air leakage is a simple change you can make to reduce your energy bills and carbon emissions without sacrificing your comfort. Make sure you check your home for unsealed or poorly unsealed doors, windows, vents, skylights and exhaust fans. Heated or chilled air can escape through these gaps and cracks and can also cause draughts and condensation.

Is insulation just for the winter?

You might know that insulation is a barrier to heat flow and can keep your home snug and warm in the winter months. However, the advantages don’t stop there!

Correctly fitted insulation can also help keep chilled air inside during the summer, so you can benefit from lower cooling costs.

When  installing insulation it is essential to consider the climate in which you live. For example, in a warmer climate you may be more concerned about keeping cool, while those in colder areas will want to keep heat inside.There are also forms of insulation that can cater for seasonal variations in temperature.

Insulation will work best when used in conjunction with other passive design elements as shading in summer can make it more effective. Your builder will have more information and is in the best  person to advise you about what will work best for you and your home.

However, if you are looking for more details about solar hot water systems, don’t hesitate to get hold of the experts at Apricus.