They don’t call Australia the sunburnt country for nothing. At times the heat can be stifling, as the temperature gauge goes up and the windows are thrown wide open in search of a cool breeze. Often during the hottest summer months, you may find many of us sheltering inside with the air conditioner on full throttle, which can often lead to exorbitant power bills while adding to our personal carbon footprint.
During recent times, permaculture principles have made a big impact on our way of life, and the choices we make when designing new or renovated homes. Innovative designers such as Darren James are implementing features that accommodate the Australian weather conditions that work with the seasons, rather than against them. Renovating gives us the opportunity to redesign with this in mind, creating eco-friendly spaces for future generations to enjoy. Through implementing pioneering design elements, a balance can be found between functionality and aesthetics.
The cost of heating and cooling our homes can be a hefty expense. When we consider that the average energy expenditure for heating and cooling accounts for more than 40% of what we pay, it makes sense to get creative about doing things differently. As people become more aware of the health of the planet that sustains us, taking responsibility for the resources that we use is imperative for the future of our species. Our own personal environmental footprint can be vastly improved simply by redefining our focus in our own homes and incorporating more sustainable design features.
Orientation of Living Areas
An important design feature that makes a huge difference to the temperature in our homes is the orientation of living areas. Houses that face north are suited to the Australian weather, providing cool breezes in summer, while making the most of the sun’s warmth during the cooler winter months. This simple design feature utilises the natural flow of air for passive cooling of living areas, reducing the need for mechanical cooling. Bedrooms and living areas that are positioned accordingly, to utilise this natural air flow, allow the occupant to live in harmony with the changing seasons.
Choice of Materials
The choice of materials is another element that designers are introducing into new or renovated homes, and the benefits are far reaching. Technology has come a long way in the development of materials that curb heat such as insulation, roof coatings that reflect the sun, as well as energy efficient glass for windows. Regular glass allows in heat during the warm weather, while allowing precious warmth to escape during the winter months, whereas high performance glazed glass can be extremely effective in controlling the temperature inside your home.
The positioning of windows makes a vast difference to the temperature inside the home as well as allowing in as much natural light as possible. Designing the home with windows positioned to draw air through the house welcomes the cool breezes, generating a natural cooling effect, without the cost of air conditioning. Planting surrounding gardens adjacent to windows provides a natural filter system to cool the air before it enters the house, keeping the temperature down as well as providing a picturesque view.