With summer well and truly heating our homes, you’ve probably fired up the air-conditioning unit and decided to worry about the electricity bill later.
But there’s a better approach that will add value to your home as well as give you a comfortable living experience. It’s called passive cooling, and it aims to work with nature to maintain a cool temperature in your home, or work in concert with air-con units on scorching days to minimise your power consumption.
As an experienced local agent, I work with buyers who prioritise the environmental credentials of prospective properties. They’ll pay extra for a home that’s designed to minimise their carbon footprint and reduce utility costs.
If you’re in the process of planning a new home or conducting an extensive renovation, you should consult an architect or designer about how you might embrace passive cooling.
If an architect had a blank piece of paper, they’d begin by positioning the home to capture the prevailing cool breeze.
Of course, it’s a bit late for that if the home is already built, but there’s still a lot more you can do to use nature to cool your home.
Landscaping close to the property can achieve “evaporative cooling”, while louvre windows positioned on opposite sides of the home will allow breezes through your home. Because hot air rises, it is recommended to position these windows higher than usual to maximise the cooling effect.
Below are some key features of passive cooling that might inspire your next renovation. Not only is passive cooling an environmentally responsible approach, but it’s also a great way to add value to your home without the substantial cost of a full-blown renovation.
Stack ventilation – This is a strategy to expel hot air through the roof. Ducts are placed at strategic positions of the home where you might spend the most time or become hotspots. The most common form of stack ventilation is an inexpensive whirlybird vent. However, there are more sophisticated approaches to take on larger tasks.
Best building materials – I’m sure you’ve noticed how timber doesn’t heat up but brick does. The term “thermal mass” is used to describe the propensity of a specific type of building materials to get hot. If you have a brick home, you can deploy a couple of strategies. These include applying a light render, or painting the exterior a light, reflective colour.
A bit shady – Landscaping for shade is a winner and can also work considerably to cool hot homes. This would fall under the umbrella term of “passive cooling”. If it’s possible, you should consider installing a pond near the building as water and the moisture in the leaves of pond plants are natural cooling agents.
Conventional solutions – Let’s not forget there are relatively inexpensive ways to cool your home, too. Consider installing an awning over windows and walls that face the sun directly. Another smart move is to get into your attic and check the insulation batts. The roof cavity must be adequately insulated or it will push the heat through the ceiling and into your living areas.