In-house secret to no summer air con

Fleur Pitman in her sustainable home and outside in vegie patch. (Rebecca Hosking) 214812_03

By Luke Voogt

On a stinking hot 41.2-degree day Fleur Pitman’s Newtown home was 24 degrees inside – with no air conditioning.

“People actually come in and ask me what sort of air conditioning I’ve got,” she said.

“It’s the basics of passive solar design that help to regulate the temperature.

“Some people think you’re making a compromise if you’ve got a sustainable house but you’re actually more comfortable.”

Fleur has previously opened her home to the public but on September 20 it will go on “virtual” display, due to COVID-19, for National Sustainable House Day.

She achieved the temperate climate with large north-facing windows, eaves that block the summer sun and a ‘reverse’ brick veneer north wall, she explained.

The interior bricks and a polished concrete slab floor absorb heat in summer and radiate it in winter, Fleur explained.

“It’s 18 degrees first thing in the morning in winter.

“I run the heater for one hour to get the house up to 20 [degrees] and then I don’t run it again for the rest of the day.

“I’ve worked out this house is saving me $1600 in electricity and gas.”

Fleur also plans to expand her small existing solar system and go all electric.

The home cost $300,000 to build in 2012, with a then 8.5-star energy efficiency rating, and even at lockup stage workers were amazed by its “high performance”, Fleur said.

“Every man and his dog were sitting inside the house because it was so cool – they didn’t really believe it until they experienced it.”

Many of the home’s features, such as double-glazed windows and LED lights, were now standard inclusions in new houses, she added.

“It’s actually getting easier to do this rather than harder.”


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