There are several things to consider before deciding on the best air conditioning and heating for your new home at Newenham.
It is important to make an informed decision about your heating and cooling, as it is generally the biggest user of electricity in your home at about 40% of the total bill.
A conversation with your builder, architect or the Newenham Design Manager early on in the planning stage can make a big difference to how comfortable your home will be and also how much it will cost to live in. To accompany these handy hints, we’ve included relevant links to authoritative websites with more detailed information.
Here’s a helpful link: www.yourhome.gov.au/energy/heating-and-cooling
Orientation and passive design
How your home is positioned on your property will make a massive difference to how much free light and warmth you capture in winter and how well you are shielded from the heat of summer. By ensuring your living areas face north rather than bedrooms and utility rooms, you can harness more natural light and warmth in winter, whilst in summer the angle of the sun and some well-placed shading will be kept it out. Consider putting your garage and/or bedrooms on the western side of the house to act us a buffer to summer heat, while providing living areas with the opportunity to make the most of northern exposure.
Detailed Area Plan (DAP)
At Newenham we have prepared an innovative Detailed Area Plan (DAP) for every single allotment. This DAP will assist your builder or designer to best lay out your home to maximise the potential of your site and take advantage of environmental factors such as solar access, slope, existing trees, summer breezes, easements and setbacks. We believe this will increase the opportunity for wellbeing while moderating temperature within your home.
Here’s an example of a Detailed Area Plan:
Having the right insulation in your home’s walls, ceiling (the most important place for it!) and underfloor (for suspended floors) will reduce the amount of heat that comes in and goes out, making your home more comfortable and energy efficient. The “R Value” of insulation is important here, so make sure you discuss what is best for you with your builder and/or architect. We recommend that you don’t settle for the minimum standard here. The better your insulation, the lower your energy bills will be! But it is also important to ensure the insulation is well installed and gaps are avoided.
Much like insulation in walls and ceilings, windows also affect the comfort and energy consumption of your house. Choose windows with a high WERS (Windows Energy Rating Scheme) rating to make sure your windows keep out unwanted summer heat and keep in winter warmth. At Newenham, where you will need cooling in summer and heating in winter, look for a balanced WERS rating with both heating and cooling stars.
This is one of the simplest and most cost effective ways to keep your home comfortable and efficient, yet most Aussie homes aren’t draught-proofed! Think about trying to pump up a flat bike tyre, but without fixing the puncture first; that’s what you’re doing if you are heating or cooling a house without good draught proofing.
Most houses leak around doors and windows, through downlights, through gaps where pipes and electrical connections penetrate walls and any other gaps between construction materials. But this isn’t just leaking air, it’s leaking energy and money, too! The good news is that this can all be sorted out with good draught proofing that costs little and will save you lots in the long run.
Think about the movement of air due to cross ventilation and ceiling fans, not just using air conditioning to make your home more comfortable. Does your house design allow for the movement of air through the house to help cool it, maximising the use of Newenham’s fresh air for comfort and reduced moisture build up? Installing ceiling fans will also greatly increase comfort without a large increase in electricity use.
This is the ability of a material to absorb and retain heat. The greater the thermal mass, the more heat (or coolth) it will store. So by using dense building materials such as bricks and concrete in well chosen places in your home, can help modulate the difference between daytime and night temperatures. Discuss good passive design features with your architect or builder.
If you are planning to install air conditioning, there are a few things to consider in addition to those above:
1. Is your home and the AC system zoned? This means being able to heat or cool just the parts of your house that you are using, rather than an all-or-nothing system. For example, you could be paying to cool a spare room that no one is using, or a rumpus room when the kids are out.
2. Make sure that your AC system is sized to reflect the clever design features you have specified with your architect or builder. Good orientation, insulation, draught-proofing, thermal mass, WERS rated windows and zoning will all reduce the workload of your AC, so make sure you’re not paying to buy and then run a bigger system than you really need.
3. Would a ground source heat pump, that uses the cool of the ground, be better in the long run than a conventional AC system that pumps hot air out into the heat of summer? A GSHP costs more upfront, but could reduce your cooling and heating costs by about 50%; definitely something to consider. How does a ground sourced heat pump work? Essentially the ground stays at a very constant 17-19oC, so by running pipes with water into the ground, the system can tap into that stable temperature and bring it into your home. Similarly in winter, compared to the outside temperature, the ground is much warmer, so it does most of the work for your heating system, without having to use electricity or gas. Have a look at the diagram below.
Image source: www.yourhome.gov.au/energy/heating-and-cooling
If this information above has caught your interest and you’d like to learn more, check out the following websites:
To talk about how you can plan your home at Newenham, please call our Design Manager on 8210 7661 or visit our Sales & Information Centre open daily from 12-5pm.
Our Design Manager is on-site every Wednesday from 1-5pm and is happy to talk to you about how you can ensure you’re making the most of these energy saving tips.