Passive building design, top tips to save you money.

Irrespective of your personal opinions on the environment, it’s important to consider passive building design. By making small conscious efforts in the design, you can actually save yourself thousands of dollars.

Not only will you save running costs of your home, but those savings will also appeal to a future buyer. Who wouldn’t buy the home that’s cheapest to run if there was a choice?

What is a passive building design?

Passive building design involves designing a home to take advantage of its surroundings, rather than working against them, to heat or cool the home.

Perhaps the most cost-effective way to approach a sustainable home is by buying a block in the right place. Believe it or not, location and orientation of your block is perhaps the most cost-effective solution to your heating and cooling costs and thus energy consumption.

Working with the environment and not against it has immeasurable benefits. Designing your home to take advantage of what’s freely available will pay huge dividends over the life of a home, and will also make the home more comfortable and a better place to live.

Tips on how you can include passive design in your new home:

1. Orientation

Make sure your living areas face north for maximum winter sun. A well-positioned home can cost nothing to heat during the day if a northern solar gain is designed into the build.

2. Cross ventilation

Incorporate large, opening windows that oppose each other into the design, so that you can get free wind-powered cooling in summer from cross-flow ventilation without the need for air conditioning. It’s healthier and much cheaper to let the breeze do the cooling for you.

3. Solar protection

If you have an east-west orientation, the windows in those walls will need to include solar protection to avoid overheating by the early and late sun. Achieve this by including verandas, blinds, awnings or even landscaping, by planting deciduous trees which will provide shade in summer and let light in during winter.

4. Zoning

Something as simple as creating sleeping and living zones in a house design can save a lot of money. This is because sleeping areas don’t need anywhere near as much heating or cooling as the main living areas. It’s sensible to keep them separate so that you only pay to heat or cool the areas you need.

5. Solar power

Solar water heating, pool heating and power generation all rely on how well your receptors are positioned. Most people don’t think about how much roof area needs covering to get meaningful results from panels.

Large north-facing roof slopes that are free from overshadowing from neighbouring houses or trees are the ideal position for solar panels. Overshadowing will substantially reduce the value for money you get on the cost of installing solar heating or power generation.