When looking for a house to call home back in '98, my key priorites were price, location and good solar exposure.
Location, Location, Location....
Having lived without a car for several years, I wanted to move into a house that was within walking distance to the services I regularly use. I was prepared to pay a bit more if I didn't have to own a car because of location.
The house I chose is sitting on a 570 sq metre block of land in Rooty Hill, an outer Western suburb of Sydney. I am about 5 min walk away from a reasonable local shopping centre and railway station. There are several major shopping centres within a few stops on the train line. The area is reasonably flat, which makes cycling a viable transport alternative to cars.
The House itself
The house is by no means a model of passive solar design.
It was originally a 2 or 3 bedroom fibro house,
probably built around the 1950's, and originally located about 5
km up the road in the suburb of Glendenning. It was moved to its
current location around 1974, where the exterior was bricked over
with full width bricks.
When I moved in, there was batt insulation in most of the exterior walls, and about 80% of the ceiling.
The house has a raised floor with no insulation under it. Windows are single-glazed in aluminium frames, and the ceiling height throughout the house is 9 ft (2.74 metres). There were 10 wall mounted vents throughout the house, and 4 ceiling vents in the kitchen.
I've had adjustable canvas awnings fitted to the windows which receive significant amounts of sun during Summer.
The house covers an area of around 116 sq metres if measured externally (including the eaves), or around 89 square metres if the internal area of each room is totalled up. This measurement excludes the laundry, which is located in a seperate building. The garage/laundry covers an area of around 33 square metres. Including other roofed structures, the total roofed area on the propoerty is around 235 square metres. Some parts of this are used for collecting rainwater for the two tanks.
Prior to the plastering up operation in June 2004....
The 'Living Area' covering 38 square metres consists of a loungeroom with polished floorboards and a window facing SE, a small passageway, and a kitchen with ceramic tiles layed over floorboards and a window facing NE. There are doorways without doors between the kitchen and longeroom, and longeroom and passageway. The kitchen receives some early morning sun during Winter, while the loungeroom receives very little useful sun.
Opening the windows in the loungeroom and an external door in the kitchen allows cooling breezes to enter the house on warm summer evenings. Unfortunately these breezes don't have an unobstructed path to flow through the house. This is the area that I'm trying to heat in Winter with the SunLizard.
In this area there were 13 rarely used low voltage downlights.
In the roofspace there was an area measuring approx 50 x 50 cm
around each downlight which had been cleared of insulation. [See Lighting page for more details on
downlights]. This area also included 4 wall vents and 4 ceiling
mounted vents in the kitchen. During June 2004 I had all the
downlights and ceiling and wall vents removed, and the holes they
left plastered over. I then replaced the previously removed batt
insulation in the ceiling, and added some extra to the previously
This is a temperature trace from my house when it's been closed up on a sunny Winter's day, and no additional heating has been utilised. The yellow 'Inside' trace is the temperature in the living area. As can be seen, the living area remains quite cool during the day, even though it's quite pleasant outside.
Bedroom 1 is carpeted, and covers an area of 16.5 square metres. It has windows facing NE and NW, and receives good winter sun exposure. This room gets beautifully warm in Winter if the door between it and the Living Area remains closed. If this door remains open, neither area seems to heat up much.
The other two bedrooms (Each carpeted and covering areas of 13.0 and 16.5 square metres) receive very little direct sun in Winter.
The renovated bathroom, consisting of ceramic tiles on a suspended concrete slab, only receives late afternoon sun in Winter.
The terracotta tiles on the roof are at a pitch of 30 degrees from the horizontal. The roof-face which contains the Sun-Lizard Solar Air Heater, Solar Hot Water system and half of the PV Panels faces 40 degrees west of True North. The carport roof which abuts the house contains the rest of the PV panels.
The house is slowly evolving...
I moved into the house in January 1999. Three months later I had the Solar Hot Water System installed, followed by the Grid-Interactive Photovoltaic System in August 2000, Water tanks in November 2001, Adjustable Canvas Awnings over some of the windows in October 2003 and the Sunlizard Solar Air Heater/Cooler a month later.
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Last Modified: 09/10/04