Australia’s extreme climate requires most buildings to have some form of air conditioning or cooling system. Whether this is ceiling fans or state of the art air conditioning, it can often lead to high energy usage – with both financial and environmental implications.
But what if there was a way in which you didn’t need to use mechanical devices? You can in fact design your home to achieve cool comfort through passive cooling. Many people modify their homes to include methods of passive cooling, or you can opt for a hybrid approach where both methods are used.
So What Is Passive Cooling?
In general terms, Passive Cooling relates to the least expensive means of cooling a home. It does not rely on mechanical devices.
The effectiveness, and the most appropriate type of passive cooling will depend upon the area of Australia in which you live.
You’ll want to think carefully about your individual requirements and consider the temperatures that your home environment experiences, whether you need to consider heating requirements in Winter and whether you have humidity in your area also.
What Are Some Examples of Passive Cooling?
Passive Cooling can occur naturally (through trees shading a home from direct sunlight or a breeze passing through) or it can be done purposefully (installing good ventilation or designing the orientation of your home with cooling in mind).
There are a vast number of ways to achieve Passive Cooling, however some of these include:
Keeping Your Building Cool
There are a two simple steps you can take to help keep your building cool, without spending money on air conditioning or fans.
Once you have reviewed these two key steps, you’ll start to see opportunity everywhere to maximize passive cooling within your home.
Avoid Direct Solar Radiation
This sounds difficult, however it’s actually fairly simple. You need to focus on shading any windows, walls and roofs from direct solar radiation. This can be done through a variety of means from planting trees to offer shade, from building porches and verandahs.
Maximise Natural Sources of Cooling
Once you learn to harness nature’s cooling ways, you’ll be amazed at the difference it can make to the temperature and air circulation within your home.
Try to capture the following within your home:
- Movement of air – this increases evaporation which is how the body cools itself via perspiration
- Breezes – these primarily occur in the later afternoon or evening and work very well in narrow or open plan homes
- Evaporation – the evaporation of water draws heat from the surrounding air. This method generally works best in areas of low humidity. Having ponds or pools close to your home can help pre cool air entering the home.
- Earth Coupling – this is particularly relevant when you consider materials such as floor tiles which are exposed to extreme external temperatures. By using cooler ground temperatures they can help to absorb the heat as it enters the building, or as it builds up within the home.
- Reflection of Radiation – quite simply, this means that heat is not absorbed and is instead reflected away. Bright or white surfaces help to reflect heat most effectively.
Enjoy the Comfort
Understanding how you can make passive cooling work for you is crucial in taking the first steps towards lowering your energy bills and doing your bit for the environment.
Whether you’re designing your dream home from scratch, or simply want to modify your existing property, there is so much you can do to incorporate passive cooling methods. With the peace of mind that you’ve lowered your financial and environmental costs, you can sit back and enjoy the comfortable cool conditions.