Is your home handling the heat?


While we weren't the hottest part of the planet on Sunday (poor Penrith scored that honour with its 47.3 degree maximum - ouch), Canberra had a fairly toasty weekend with a maximum of 37.2 on Saturday and 40.6 on Sunday. See the Bureau of Meteorology data for January here.

How did your home, and its occupants, handle the heat? Hopefully you didn't melt and hopefully you didn't have to run an air-conditioning system all weekend. Perhaps you escaped to the pool or river because it was just too uncomfortable at home.

Is it possible to maintain your house, and yourself, at comfy temperatures during such extremes? The answer is: yes, it's quite simple if your home is well-designed, well-insulated and doesn't have loads of air leaks. Just last week ABC news online ran an article about how Australian houses, even new homes, are failing to cope with summer conditions. Sadly this comes as no surprise to us... but it doesn't have to be this way.

 Photo: http://www.canberradogwalks.com.au/canberra-dog-swimming-areas/

Photo: http://www.canberradogwalks.com.au/canberra-dog-swimming-areas/

Very few Light House homes have active cooling systems. Most clients nervously question this at the start of the design process but we assure them (based on science, data and experience from tens of Canberra homes) that it will be OK and encourage them to go without and to retrofit a small split system if they really need it. The vast majority are very pleasantly surprised by how comfortable their home remains with the simple management techniques mentioned in our previous post. We also physically test our projects using a thermal camera and blower door to ensure the building envelope is properly sealed and insulated.

Director/Scientist Jenny likes to practice what she preaches. Below is a graph showing the internal and external temperatures at her place over the last week. Yesterday, as the heat wave peaked at 40.6 degrees, Jenny's home (currently housing 2 adults, 1 teenager and 1 dog) peaked at 27.9 degrees in the front living area. With ceiling fans on this felt like a delightful 25 degrees and she and the family were blissfully unaware of the outdoor temperature. Opening the front door and stepping out onto the concrete driveway quickly reminded them that the house was protecting them from fairly nasty conditions! Two lots of visitors over the weekend were very surprised to discover there was no air-conditioning system responsible for the comfy internal temperatures. Read more about the performance of Jenny's home throughout the year in some of our previous journal stories (she also has no heating and she and the family survived the -8 degree winter).

 Internal versus external temperatures at Jenny's house during the first week of January 2018. Green = external east, Blue = external west, Orange = kitchen/dining/sitting, Black = lounge/TV room.

Internal versus external temperatures at Jenny's house during the first week of January 2018. Green = external east, Blue = external west, Orange = kitchen/dining/sitting, Black = lounge/TV room.