The mere thought of a house without conventional heating will see many Canberrans reaching for the extra doona.
However, architectural advancements can ensure a home sits at a comfortable temperature all year round with minimal reliance on electricity.
These sustainable homes will be showcased at the ACT chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects’ Solar House Day on Wednesday.
Canberra architects will demonstrate different approaches to solar homes at a free public lecture and exhibition.
The institute will also run two weekend bus tours, allowing participants to view the region’s best climate-appropriate dwellings.
A modular home in Wright with an energy efficiency rating of eight stars will be one of the featured houses.
Designed by Light House Architecture and Science, the only source of heating at the Watsons’ family home is a European wood pellet stove in the living room.
A fan circulates the warm air in winter, pulling it through a series of ducts throughout the home.
Comprehensive insulation, double-glazed windows and draught sealing keeps costs down and the home cosy throughout the cooler months.
According to Light House Architecture and Science architect Sarah Lebner, a truly sustainable home comprises more than just solar panels.
“A sustainable home is designed to ensure that winter sun is captured and stored, but summer sun is shaded,” Ms Lebner said.
“An energy efficient home should also have well-installed insulation around the entire building envelope and pay strong attention to minimising air leakage and draughts.”
Ms Lebner said the public is becoming more aware of the benefits of sustainable design and construction.
“Increasing energy prices mean that even those less inspired by the environmental benefits are now more interested in energy efficient homes,” Ms Lebner said.
With a high energy efficiency rating and solar system, some Canberra homeowners have received a negative electricity bill, which means they were paid back for the energy their home generated.
Solar House Day participants will also hear the many innovative design solutions architects can offer to their existing home.
“Many people don’t think they can improve their current home without spending lots of money,” Ms Lebner said.
“Draught sealing is very cheap and very effective. Retrofitting insulation is also cheaper than many people think. Good thick curtains and blinds that limit air movement across the glass can make single-glazed windows as effective as double-glazed.”
The free public lecture and exhibition will take place from 4-7pm on Wednesday at The Shine Dome, Australian Academy of Science, ANU. RSVP via architecture.com.au/act.
The bus tours will be held on July 31 and August 7. Tickets can also be purchased on the website.