Real Estate

How to keep cool without ramping up your power bill

Written by The ReReport
As seen in the Source link, written by on 2019-02-04 05:12:04

This Annandale home by Simon Anderson Architecture was a finalist in the Inner West Built Environment Awards. Photo: Chad Dao

There’s no denying it — it’s been a hot summer. So is there anything we can do — aside from turning up the airconditioning — to reduce the indoor temperatures and keep our home cool?

While some of us have been able to retreat to the office, the shopping centre or the cinema during the day, many have spent hours at home trying to find ways to deal with the heat.

Luke van Jour from Distinct Innovations is an experienced building designer with a masters degree in sustainable design. Many of his clients are based in western Sydney where temperatures have regularly exceeded 40°C this summer.

Fan power rules in this North Manly home. Photo: Simon Whitbread.

He says there are a number of measures, big and small, you can take to lower how hot your home feels at different times of the day that will reduce the need for airconditioning — and the subsequent impact on energy bills.

The key is protecting your house from the sun during the hottest part of the day.

“In summer in Sydney, it’s imperative that you close all your openings during the day to reduce radiant heat from entering,” he says.

“If you can retro fit the windows with blockout shutters or external venetians to the outside of the glass, that’s great. Otherwise, drop into your local nursery and buy a small tree with a good size canopy to plant near your east and west windows to provide shading over the glass.”

You can pull temperatures down at the start and the end of the day by opening all the doors and windows using cross ventilation to draw a breeze through.

This Annandale home was designed for sustainable living by Simon Anderson Architecture. Photo: Chad Dao

“So many times I have been walking in the evening when the temperatures have dropped by 10 to15 degrees and I can still see and hear my surrounding neighbours’ airconditioning systems running,” Luke says. “It’s important to be more connected with the environment.

“If you can reduce the running time of your airconditioning systems by even one hour per day, the savings are huge at the end of the quarter.”

Drawing fresh air through your house will also improve indoor air quality, which is important for people with respiratory conditions and allergies. If you’re planning to make structural changes to your house, Luke says there are some basic design elements that can make a significant difference to how comfortable you’ll feel indoors.

Louvred windows allow air flow in an award-winning North Manly home by architect Matt Elkan. Photo: Simon Whitbread.

Given hot air rises, installing louvred windows to the northern and southern sides of the house will allow hot air out and cool air in.

Materials such as brick and concrete are very effective at storing heat, which they will continue to release even after the temperature has dropped.

Luke suggests minimising those materials, especially outside the house.

“Design soft and cool landscape features such as a pool, timber decking, soft soil gardens and water features to combat heat transference,” Luke says. “With the external blinds and garden beds this should dramatically reduce the heat loads in summer from entering the internal space.”

Your choice of building materials can also help. For western Sydney, Luke says insulation for walls and ceilings is a must. The higher the R-value rating, the more heat resistant the insulation is.

Luke recommends R4.0 for ceilings and R2.0 for walls at a minimum.

Because much of the heat transference comes via glass windows, he says low-e glass, which is fitted with a thin heat resistant coating is worth considering.