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Cool and heat your house naturally

Drive around suburbia and you'll quickly notice that the trend in roofing is dark, dark, dark. Black. Charcoal. Woodland Grey, or for a touch of blue, Deep Ocean. Red is definitely out, and has been for some time.

And we've been hearing for a while about a global push to paint roofs white, or at least light. If not light, then with reflective paint to help reduce the absorption of heat in summer.

This extends to building regulations such as BASIX, in NSW. It makes perfect sense, especially in parts of Australia where the summers are hot (that's most of Australia, although if you looked at this summer only, you'd argue that that doesn't extend to Sydney), to think about making roof colours lighter.

However, the argument is never black and white. Or Ironstone and Dune. Just how much of an effect the colour of your roof will have on the comfort inside your home will depend on a number of factors, including insulation levels and ventilation.

For the past year or so I've been tossing up what to do with an existing red-roofed home. Back in September I visited a few homes for Sustainable House Day to see what other people were up to.

Some had rainwater tanks, north-facing windows, double-glazing and thick curtains. Many had polished cement floors for the high thermal mass they offer.

But one had something that seemed to make good sense. A solar roof collector. The home owner had installed a product called Solectair at the recommendation of his air-conditioning supplier.

It was the second property this particular house owner had put it into after liking the product so much in his first house, for the way that it was able to help to warm the house in winter and cool it in summer.

Although not a replacement for the air-conditioner in the sense that on a stinking hot day or freezing one you may still need some cooling or heating, the theory with this group of products is they can assist in cooling down the house overnight in summer, and warming it during the day in winter. Some also exhaust the hot air from the roof space in summer, in much the same way that a whirlybird would.

Article Source: The Age Domain