Understanding the Australian Climate
Our climate is getting warmer. Australians are now using more energy to cool than to heat their homes. The use of energy efficient windows and doors can save up to 60% of your energy costs to heat and cool in all climates.
In Europe, frequent extreme cold periods and unpredictable heat waves can make for uncomfortable living conditions at times. However Australia is lucky to have relatively moderate climate conditions. While some areas do experience extreme heat, these areas are largely unpopulated, and extreme cold is rare throughout the continent.
The lack of extreme weather conditions means that it is relatively easy for homes to achieve very good energy outcomes. Homeowners do not need to part with excessive amounts of money for elaborate window and door systems to improve the energy efficiency of their home. High performance aluminium windows and doors can easily provide the desired thermal performance benefits at a reasonable cost.
While climate change is often referred to as an abstract far-off phenomenon the fact is we are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate. Australian average temperatures have increased by 0.9°c since 1950, while the frequency of hot days and nights has increased and the frequency of cold days and nights has declined.
Regardless of what climate zone you live in, the same basic Passive Design principles apply. Through careful selection of windows and doors you can gain maximum control over your home’s thermal performance and reduce reliance on artificial cooling and heating. Australians are now using more energy to cool than heat; artificial cooling systems generally consume more energy than heating systems and are expensive to install and operate.
WERS (Window Energy Rating Scheme) Climate Classes
In cooling climates, the primary goal is to keep unwanted heat from entering the home and to reduce the size of the artificial cooling system to minimise ongoing operating costs. The best results are obtained from windows and doors that limit solar heat gain. This can be achieved by using tinted or coated glass types. Good insulation is also important, particularly if the home is air conditioned. In these situations double glazing can deliver significant benefits and also provide further improvement in solar heat gain coefficient.
In heating climates the aim is to retain heat and to maximise the penetration of solar energy in winter. Selecting windows that insulate well ensures unwanted heat loss is minimised. Windows with a low U Value and high SHGC indicate effective insulation properties and are preferable in cool climates. Double glazed windows with spectrally selective or Low E glass coating provide excellent energy outcomes. Areas with a cool climate include Tasmania, Southern Victoria and some parts of New South Wales and South Australia.
In a mixed climate the goal is to stop heat from entering the home during summer and from escaping during winter. In these climates, windows which offer a good compromise between U Value and Solar Heat Gain are required. Alternatively, use of various glasses on certain elevations can help achieve the right balance. Southern Western Australia, parts of New South Wales and South Australia, and northern Victoria generally fall within this category.