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Passive solar design techniques often require little or no extra capital outlay but can provide more comfortable living conditions and reduce demand on energy for space heating or cooling. Taking advantage of natural sunlight to provide winter warmth and planning for suitable shading for summer will save money and improve comfort levels in your new home.

Some of the passive design concepts that you should think about are:

  • Maximum north orientation of windows with suitable shading for warmer months;
  • Slab on ground floor and suspended upper storey floors to act as exposed internal thermal mass;
  • Sun shading such as eaves, verandahs, windows with blinds or curtains to be considered;
  • Reduce window size or numbers on other than north facing walls; and
  • Plant deciduous trees and shrubs to provide plenty of summer shade.

Many of these passive solar elements do not add to the cost of a building, but should be thought about when designing a new home. Strangely enough, some coastal properties have needlessly large windows on east and west sides, installed with powerful and costly air-conditioners and heating which eat into the family budget. With a little more thought at the planning stage these home owners could have saved a lot of money on energy costs and had a more comfortable living environment to boot.

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