8 Star Brick HouseHome >> Sustainability » 8 Star Brick House
A house with an 8-star home energy rating might be well equipped to save on energy consumption. But success relies on another important ingredient - the people who live there.
This house has a floorplan that's designed to maximise the sun's energy throughout the year, windows that are strategically positioned to capture cool breezes in summer and banish them during winter, and a ventilated roof cavity so that hot air can escape. The tiled living room floor stores and radiates warmth when it's cold, brick has been used externally thanks to its superior thermal mass, and water is heated by a solar-powered system. Just a handful of the environmentally-conscious design decisions and inclusions that were made in the planning and construction of this home, the aim was to reduce the need for artificial heating while at the same time significantly cutting the home's operating costs. And it worked, with the house being awarded an 8-star rating under the Building Energy Rating Scheme (BERS).
Daniel Smee is one half of the brains behind Perth-based sustainable home building company Jade Projects. He lives with his family in a slightly larger version of this Jade 808 insulated double brick house, and that means he can comment not only on the theory of living in a home designed to be energy efficient, but also the realities.
Even with windows that are appropriately shaded to ward off summer sun but allow the winter variety to heat up the thermal mass, and cross-flow ventilation to maximise the cooling of the home during summer, his family still has to do its bit.
"Passive Solar Homes don't perform as well as they should unless the occupants have a good understanding of how they work and operate them appropriately as a result. It's just a matter of keeping blinds closed during the day and opening doors and windows at night to vent the building during summer, and doing the opposite in winter, but you still have to make
the effort to do it."
To help his family stay true to the task, Smee has employed a little help. "We have an internal and external temperature gauge so we can fine tune exactly when we open the house up to let the hot air out and the cool air in. But in fact, the house will stay cool for a week in hot weather if it's shut up." There is also a four-minute timer in the shower and power points have been positioned in slightly higher positions, so that they're easily accessible. "So we always turn everything off at the power point now, something which can be ignored if sockets are too hard to reach."
The home's passive solar design and double brick construction has done away with the need for air conditioning and artificial heating. Which just proves what can be achieved when a well-designed home and well-trained, conscientious inhabitants work together.