What Makes a Passive Home?

 In Energy Efficiency, FAQs

Passive design has been a topic of much conversation in the industry over recent years, but what does this process entail and more importantly, what actually makes a passive home?

Essentially, a passive home is designed to take advantage of natural light, heat and cooling to maintain a comfortable temperature in the house at all times. The benefit of a passive home is that it reduces the need for artificial heating or cooling sources, saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint in the process.

A passive home utilises key design elements to ensure the interiors remain comfortable year-round. These elements include orientation, zoning, insulation, double glazing and ventilation, all of which are used to ensure unwanted heat gain and loss are minimised. In this blog, we wanted to talk a little more about some of the key considerations involved in designing a passive home.

Keep reading to learn more…


Essentially, orientation refers to the way you position your home on your property to take advantage of the local environment. A home with an optimal orientation will maximise shade in summer and ensure sunlight can shine through on cold winter days. This can be achieved by installing double-glazed windows, which make it harder for heat to pass through; by including louvre shutters, which can be closed on hot summer days or opened up to allow the breeze to flow through; or by incorporating skylights into your design.

Orientation means your building designer, architect and builder will need to pay close attention to the variation in the sun’s path throughout the seasons, as well as wind directions throughout the day and design your home accordingly. It also means improving solar access to panels for solar energy if this is also being included in your home.


Another important element of a passive home is zoning. This means your building designer or architect will include doors or partitions in the home which can be closed to create ‘zones’.

Having the ability to create separate zones means you can separately heat or cool these spaces when required, instead of having to keep the entire home temperate at one time. Zoning can refer to either separate ‘rooms’ or different levels of the house and can be achieved by the inclusion of specific passive door systems.


A well-insulated home is integral to ensuring your home stays warm in winter and cool in summer. In Australia, many old homes are poorly insulated so the difference you’ll notice in a new insulated home is phenomenal.

Insulation will provide your home with year-round comfort and is a great way to cut back on your greenhouse gas emissions and heating and cooling bills – if you’re only going to implement one element of passive design into your new home, this is it. Speak to your builder at the design stage, as construction is the most economical time to add proper installation to your home.


Ventilation makes use of natural elements like wind and sunlight to ensure temperate air can circulate in your home at all times. This is a great way to ensure your family stays happy and healthy throughout the year. Not only do you want air to be able to flow between the interior zones of your home, but you need stale air to have an escape route and an entry point for fresh, clean air.

A great way to achieve this is by installing a home ventilation system, which will push out stale air and inject your home with fresh air from outside. In winter, these systems will transfer warm air from the roof into your home to maintain a comfortable temperature, while in summer hot air from the roof will be pushed back out.

If you want to learn more, or to begin working on your very own passive home design, get in touch with Newcastle home building specialist Homes by Elite today!

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