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Passive home design is important: Here’s how you can improve it

By Ben Faulks

Blasting the air conditioner during the summer and cranking up the heating when it gets cold can prove costly on monthly utility bills.

Some home owners are taking advantage of the climate by making subtle changes to their properties that save them thousands of dollars throughout the course of the year. Real estate owners in Belconnen should consider following course and make a few renovations that will also improve their quality of life.

Understanding the basics

Passive design is a simple concept, and your house probably already has concepts that contribute to it. Essentially, a passive house is constructed in a way that best utilises natural sources of heating and cooling. This can be as basic as large windows that catch most of the sun's rays during the peak of the day, or planting deciduous trees that shade in summer but let sun and warmth through during the winter. There are other aspects that are a factor as well, such as the orientation of your home.

While the best time to incorporate a passive design is during the building process, this doesn't necessarily mean you can't make a few home improvements to an existing home. The core principle of the theory is trap heat as best as possible, while also making adjustments that will cool the home when it gets too warm.

Just like any other renovation, there's a financial incentive involved. Property owners that maximise this design can slash their need for heating and cooling to the point where they may not even need it. Curbing the use of these two utilities often has a huge impact on expenditures, with both accounting for roughly 40 per cent of the average Australian's energy bill, Your Home reported.

Taking action

Obviously, if you're building from the ground up then you'll want to talk to your architect about what type of layouts lend themselves to passive design the best. For everyone else, hope isn't lost. Small renovations can bring big returns.

Start with the building envelope. Insulation is a vital part of keeping the home warm during the winter. Take the time to walk around your home and check if there are any cracks or broken seals with your doors and windows. Alternatively, consider installing glazed windows – they can help trap heat more efficiently during the winter and play a vital role in warming up the home.

It's nice to keep all the warmth in your house during the winter, but what about the summer? This is where shading plays a large role. Installing eaves, retractable window awnings or shutters can help cool the house during those hot days.

Similarly, natural shading is valuable as well. Potted ferns are a great addition to the exterior and can be moved around to provide strategic cooling. Home owners may also want to consider planting trees to shield certain areas. Covering the west side of the home, for example, will reduce the unwanted heat in the afternoon and won't interfere with the warmth the morning provides, Domain reported.

Of course, one of the more logical additions a property owner can make to a passive home is solar panels. The energy generated can be used to provide supplemental cool air or heat for the home at a fraction of what it would normally cost. While it requires a sizable investment at the beginning, if you're planning on raising your family in the house for decades it will likely pay off down the line.

Are you interested in finding property in Belconnen that would be great for a passively designed home? Contact a Ray White representative today.

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