What is passive solar heating?

According to YourHome, 'passive design reduces or eliminates the need for auxiliary heating or cooling, which accounts for about 40% (or much more in some climates) of energy used in the average Australian home’.


With passive solar design you can heat or cool your home in a very energy efficient and cost effective way. The heat is collected from the sun that shines through north-facing windows and it’s then retained in materials that store heat, called a thermal mass. The amount of energy stored is dependent on the amount of thermal mass your home contains.


If you’re thinking about passive solar heating start with a professional home energy audit so you can determine how much energy you’re currently consuming and learn new ways to make your home more energy efficient.


Once you’ve worked out the best energy efficient solution, it’s time to think about implementing an effective design.


1. Make sure you have properly oriented windows to absorb heat. If the windows aren’t located in the right positions in your home the design won’t work.

2. Implement thermal mass materials; typically brick, stone or tile, to absorb the heat from the sun.

3. Implement some distribution mechanisms – such as fans to move heat around the home or convection devices, which can transfer energy by liquid, or heat.

4. Consider roof overhangs on you solar passive windows to block out the heat in the warmer months and to help with heat absorption when it’s cooler. Another good control strategy is to install an awning.

5. Specialised glazing in your windows will also help to retain the heat/cool air and make your home more energy efficient. Have a look at Low-E glass.

6. A really easy thing to do on new window installations is to foam a fill around the frame gap to seal it and then install architrave over it. Doing this will creates a thermal mass and eliminates air gaps.


If you’re building a new home or renovating, think about going back to basics. You’ll be helping the environment and saving money.


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