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Passive Solar Design

It has been estimated that at least forty percent of the energy costs in the average home are for heating or cooling. Passive solar design takes advantage of the climate in order to maintain a comfortable living temperature. The principles driving this type of design are year round comfort for all the family, lower energy bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions for the life of your home.

Being aware of your building site and how the house is situated will assist you to take advantage of cooling breezes and the warmth of the sun in winter. Careful thought has to be put into the design of the walls, roof, doors, windows and floors of the home in order to stop excess heat in summer or its loss in the winter months.

Each particular climate requires different designs in order to take advantage of the exposure of the home to the sun’s light and heat. In most climatic zones in Australia living areas are best positioned facing north, or as close to north as possible. This is to ensure the shading of the windows and walls in summer, and to gain maximum exposure to the sun in winter months. In tropical climates this rule does not apply and different design features need to be taken into account. With a north-facing orientation, the thermal characteristics of the home create a very comfortable living environment with less cost for auxiliary heating and cooling. This is because it takes into account the direction and type of winds and the variations in the sun’s path in the summer and winter.

Brio’s range of exterior folding systems and exterior folding doors¬†enable the householder to take advantage of cooling breezes by opening up the living area to the outside elements. Whether the type chosen is the sliding door system or the folding door system, the extra air flow will be greatly appreciated in the heat of summer. The doors themselves are not only functional but are also stylish and architecturally-inspired. The superior look and feel and functionality of the exterior sliding door hardware and folding door hardware means that anyone in the home can open and close the doors with ease. Interior folding systems will open up your living areas and add much-needed cooling in summer. But these systems can be closed off in winter to retain heat and warmth inside.

The ability of a material to store and absorb heat is known as thermal mass. High density materials such as concrete, bricks and tiles need a great deal of heat to change the temperature, so they have a high thermal mass. A material with a low thermal mass is wood. Thermal mass must be used wisely, as it can absorb your winter heat or radiate heat on a hot summer’s night.

Skylights contribute to comfort and energy efficiency in the home. They are a great source of natural light, and can also improve internal air circulation. However, they can cause heat loss in winter or heat gain in summer. So care has to be taken in choosing the skylight option that suits your climate, home and lifestyle.