Comfort is the best quality a home can have, and as luxury custom home builders, we know that maintaining comfort throughout the seasons can be taxing both financially and unsustainably. That’s why whenever we design a home, we consider passive design — a sustainable and beneficial practice. But what is passive design? Keep reading to find out about the importance of passive design as well as some luxurious green touches that will maximise your comfort and mitigate your bills.
Defining passive design
Put simply, passive design takes into account several factors such as building materials, window placement, room placement and land positioning to leverage the climate to keep your home warm in winter and cool during summer. This lessens the need for active methods like air conditioning (which can make up roughly 40% of energy usage in Australian homes and are costly).
The ultimate goal is to eliminate the need for these active methods and instead take advantage of the sun and cool air to carry the bulk of the load. Efficiently built envelopes are important — as they act as the barriers between the external and internal environment — as well as appropriate insulation.
How does insulation factor into this?
Insulation is one of the most crucial aspects of a passively designed home. There are several different types of insulation available that our luxury custom home builders can install and each type will bring its own benefits to the table. The important specs to look out for, though, are the R-values.
R-values determine the insulation’s thermal resistance; different products will have different ranges, but what you should keep in mind is that the higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation. The primary goal of insulation is essentially the same purpose that fuels passive design; insulation works by slowing the transference of heat — whether that be keeping it inside longer during winter or keeping it outside longer during summer.
Choosing the right position (and being aware of passive design)
As mentioned earlier, the positioning of your home and the placement of the windows play a significant part in passive design; catching the morning sun, for example, can be a real treat during those cold winter mornings which is why north-facing windows are highly sought-after additions in key rooms.
Our luxury custom home builders highly recommend you consider double-glazed windows which will allow the sun’s radiant energy to penetrate but will then ensure that heat is trapped inside your home — leaking out very slowly. Of course, this can present an issue in summer, which is why it is up to the occupants to ensure that windows enduring the full force of the sun’s rays are covered during hot weather. Heavy drapes or thick blinds will be sufficient to circumvent your home from overheating — that way, the other passive aspects of your home can pull their weight.
It’s no secret that electricity can be costly, especially when you’re using it in large quantities, but a smart (and sustainable) way to mitigate that is to install solar panels and batteries. Leveraging solar power is a clever and economical option that can actually provide you with an auxiliary income (as any remaining power you do not use will be fed back into the public power grid to be utilised by others in your community if you so choose).
Solar power also means that if you do need to use your air conditioning for a period during extremely hot or cold days, you’ll be using a renewable source. Solar panels should be installed at angles between 10° and 35° on north-facing roofs for the best efficiency across the board — ensuring they can take in the sun’s energy throughout the day. Installing photovoltaic solar panels on your home’s roof with a storage battery is a luxurious and sustainable feature that you will be able to use every day.
Are you looking for luxury custom home builders?
The keys to a passively designed home are all achievable during the initial construction; this is the best time to decide whether or not you would like your future home’s passive energy efficiency taken into account and something the luxury custom home builders at S & B Lamble Builders can help you with.
With over 35 years of experience in the construction sector, our veterans know the ins and outs of residential homes and will offer unique insight and evaluations pre-construction in addition to turning your dream home into a luxurious, high-quality reality.