A few cold, but sunny, days allowed our home to show off what it can do with sunlight. Light streaming through the large north facing windows quickly warmed the house in daytime. Solar panels produced more than enough electricity to supply our all-electric home's needs.
Summer solar means maximum production from the panels. With great power comes great responsibility so there were lessons to be learned in how to best use the electricity generated. The most important lesson I learned was to move power consumption to daylight hours whenever possible.
While discussing sustainable home design with others, I realised the word "passive" mu;st be used carefully. Passive solar design is different to Passive House design. It's important to understand the differences and similarities.
While the indoor temperature felt comfortable during hot summer days, I was left with the nagging feeling that wishful thinking was keeping me cool. Passive solar design should minimise the need for mechanical cooling for everything but a run of very hot days. Temperature monitoring data confirmed this is the case for our design.
Insulating the concrete slab edge reduces the heat lost from the thermal mass during winter. There are a variety of ways to install the insulation along with the termite barrier. After considering the likely cost/benefit, our design uses a garden bed to cover exposed concrete edges.
Once the house was weatherproof, the focus shifted to interior work. Thoroughly insulating the walls and ceilings is a critical component of passive heating and cooling design. Putting plasterboard on the walls has clearly defined the rooms.
Double glazed windows were a non-negotiable item right from the start. Expert advice from organisations such as the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) clearly spelled out the insulation advantages. From a ...