Understanding and Harnessing Passive Heating

[19/09/2022]

“Many Australian homes are just glorified tents.” 1

This quote from Queensland University of Technology public health professor Adrian Barnett will ring true to anyone who has shivered through a freezing Australian winter in a drafty home.



The Price Of A Cold Home

According to the World Health Organisation, if you live in a home that regularly dips below 18° Celsius you "expose yourself to a range of very well-documented illnesses including cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, and communicable diseases." 2

More people in Australia die from effects of cold weather than people in Sweden.

A 2015 article in the medical journal The Lancet found that nearly 6.5% of deaths between 1988 and 2009 were caused by cold weather – compared with just 3.9% in Sweden.

In the same period, only 0.5% of Australians died from hot weather. 3

Our homes are just not built to shelter us from the cold like they do the heat, and with gas and electricity prices skyrocketing this needs to change, and passive heating could be the answer.

 



Passive Heating Explained
4

Passive heating (also referred to as passive solar heating) is a design mantra in which houses are designed to store, distribute, and retain heat. This can be achieved through 5 main elements:


Letting in Solar Heat

Glazed spaces exposed to full sunlight allow heat transfer into the building. Glazing, frame material, window orientation and the amount of nearby shade all affect this process.

Reducing Cold Airflow

Cold air infiltration is reduced through high-quality windows and doors, airtight construction, draught sealing, and airlocks.


Reducing Heat loss

Specific home designs leveraging efficient shapes and layouts, minimal roof area (most heat escapes through the roof), and compact building shapes that minimise roof and external wall area all reduce heat loss in colder months.


Effective Heat Distribution

The heat released from thermal mass areas is distributed through the house through effective design for airflow. Floor plans should be designed so that living areas used during the day and the evening face north and received the greatest sunlight.


Storing Heat

The heat that enters the home through glazing is trapped with materials with a high thermal mass. This heat is released at night when the house starts to cool down.

The passive heating approach to home design is appropriate and useful for anyone living in a climate that requires winter heating – and is the cheapest way to heat a home.



Glazing for Passive Heating

The importance of correct glazing choices on a passive heating design can’t be understated. Correct solar heat gain (SHGw), U Values, Air Infiltration and many other aspects of windows and glazing needs to be considered to achieve an effective passive heating design.

If you’d like more information on windows, glazing and doors that can help passively heat your home please get in touch with our team.

Alternatively, you can view the Australian Governments factsheet on passive heating here.



Source:
1. Kate Stanton; Domain, "Why your house is freezing in winter, and how to warm it up" June 12, 2018.

2. Josephine Lim and Evelyn Leckie; ABC News, "Renters shiver below minimum heathy temperature 17 hours a day in winter, report finds." August 16, 2022. 

3. Dr Antonio Gasparrini, Yuming Guo, Prof Masahiro Hashizume, Eric Lavigne, Antonella Zanobetti, Prof Joel Schwarz. The Lancet. “Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multicultural observational study.” May 2015.

4. Chris Reardon; YourHome, "Passive Heating" 2013. (Edited Kylie Evans 2020).


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