Temperature has to be one of the most important elements of making a home that’s comfortable to be in and somewhere you can be happy. When we first bought our run down workers cottage a few years ago (remember?), it well and truly baked in the sun. Other than a few nods to vernacular Queensland design, the tiny shed wasn’t designed with cool temperatures in mind. It was built to keep the light out in an attempt to reduce the heat, but because we wanted lots o light in the house we knew we would need a plan.
So a big part of our renovation, and the ongoing updates we’ve been making, has been about making it a really comfortable space to be in. That’s meant putting passive and active cooling systems in the house. Over the last few years we’ve included lots of design elements that have made it infinitely more comfortable, allowing both cool and light to penetrate, and these days it really is a joy to be in. So I wanted to share with you a few things that we have done, with a few key learnings and things you might want to consider yourself!
Renovating your house is a really great time to consider how it can be designed or updated to integrate passive cooling, and when I say that I mean how you can bring airflow and breezes through your house. We sought out the main breezeways across the site and made sure that none of those were hindered by new rooms or walls in our renovated design. The corridor through the middle of the house carries amazing breezes from the east to west, and you can literally feel the house sighing in the afternoon as the fresh breezes blow through.
It’s also important to understand the challenges of your home and for us it’s that the back of the block faces west, meaning very hot sun in the afternoons. For that reason early on in the renovation we planted trees that we chose for their ability to grow and shade the side of the house. They have really grown so well and are on their way to creating an amazing canopy that keeps the heat off. It goes without saying that every room also has a big ceiling fan and blinds to keep the heat out. We also recently put in one of my favourite things in the house, these amazing pop out wooden panels on the deck, that can be opened and shut to catch the breezes and keep the sun out at various times of the day. They are so cool and have made an incredible difference to the house!
For those really hot days where you need to take the edge off the heat, we knew we would need to get air conditioning. After doing a lot of research, I found out that Bunnings has a great installation service that makes it quick and easy for you to get air conditioning installed. We decided to put two units into our home, based on the rooms that we spend most time in and the ones that get the hottest. One in the main room and one in our bedroom. Because Frankie’s room is at the back of the house which doesn’t get as hot as the rest, we decided to hold off on her room for a while. She’s been pretty happy with the fan so that’s great!
I started by looking online for the units, deciding what we needed based on the size of the space. We decided to get a larger unit for the main room and a smaller unit for our bedroom. Once I knew what I wanted, I dropped by the special orders desk at my local Bunnings, and organised the installation. I paid for the units at the same time and all in all it was so quick and easy! The units were delivered a week or so later and a few days after that the installer came to put them in – doing the full installation including the wiring that might have otherwise required an electrician to visit separately. And the price was really great, it was cost effective compared to another quote I got. Amazing!
The house these days is truly cool, and because of the passive things we put in place we haven’t had to use the air con other than on really hot days (35 degrees +). But it’s great to know it’s there on those boiling afternoons!
I’m currently also doing a lot of research about putting solar on the house, because it only makes sense to capture all the amazing sun, and I’m hoping to get that on this year. So let me know if you have any tips for that!
This project is in collaboration with Bunnings.