Maximising warmth with minimal costs

Rhys TarlingThe West Australian
Derby by Weststyle in Shenton Park.
Camera IconDerby by Weststyle in Shenton Park. Credit: JOEL BARBITTA.

With the cooler weather firmly taking hold, it is beneficial to have a solid grasp on the design principles that allow a home to maintain a reasonable temperature throughout winter.

Not only is this a sustainable mode of living that can reduce your carbon footprint, it can also save you from needlessly running up your electricity bills.

Weststyle Lead Architect Mary Ong offered some useful design tips for retaining warmth in a home.

“The most important element of passive heating is the orientation of your home – how the home is positioned in relation to the sun’s path in different seasons,” she said.

“Successful orientation for passive heating maximises northern exposure of walls and windows while reducing east and west exposure to avoid overheating in summer.

“Also consider adequately sizing your home to suit your family’s needs. Bigger spaces require more energy to heat or cool.”

In regards to the layout of your home, Ms Ong said it was essential to orientate the living areas towards the north to receive the most sun throughout winter.

“In conjunction with this, consider materials that are able to absorb and retain heat and release it slowly into your home,” she said.

“For example, a polished concrete slab is able to absorb the heat from the day and release it in the evening when the outside temperatures are cooler.”

Ms Ong said houses gained and lost the most amount of heat through window glazing, so the size, positioning and treatment of windows was extremely important.

“Maximising north-facing windows allows them to follow the path of the Australian sun and ensures the home will receive sunshine for the longest period of the day in winter,” she said. “The windows are also easily shaded by the eaves of the roof in summer.”

Ms Ong said, aside from placement of the windows, the treatment of the glass was paramount.

“There are a few different options available such as low-e glass, double glazing and various degrees of tinting,” she said.

“Engaging an energy consultant is important, as they will advise you of the amount of glazing allowable in each room.

“The challenge we frequently face is wanting more glass than is allowable for each room.

“This is often overcome by increasing insulation requirements, increasing the specification of glass type and appropriate external shading devices.”

Ms Ong said draught proofing was also an important factor to take into consideration when keeping a house warm.

“Up to 25 per cent of winter heat loss from existing houses is caused by air leakage, also known as draughts or uncontrolled ventilation.”

CONTACT Weststyle, 9345 1565, www.weststyle.com.au

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