You are here

Energy-saving guide for Northern Australia

Tropics checklist (climate zone 1)

Things to look for when buying, building, renovating or renting a home in the tropics.

For an existing home

Check the house’s energy rating and past energy bills. Look for maintenance records and manuals for any appliances heating and cooling equipment, hot water and/or solar PV panels.

For building a new home or renovating

View the extensive resources on Your Home, Australia’s guide to environmentally sustainable homes. It includes Design for climate and you can download architect-designed 7 star house plans. These include supporting information to achieve a 7 star NatHERS rating or higher.

A clipboad with a checklist

Building layout and design

  • Does the floor plan provide protection from extreme temperature and encourage air movement, heat release and cross-ventilation?

  • Are bedrooms located downstairs and to maximise sleeping comfort?

  • Is the design for an elevated building with one room deep?

  • Are there well-positioned windows (such as high-positioned highlight windows), roof vents or whirlybirds?

  • Are all walls and windows shaded to block sun and rain?

  • Is there a fly roof to block sun from the whole house?

Construction type

  • Is construction from lightweight materials such as steel or wood?

  • Are roof materials reflective and light in colour?

  • Is it designed and built for cyclonic conditions?

  • If renovating or building, can you minimise heat gain and maximise the effectiveness of insulation by constructing the home without downlights into the ceiling space?


  • Does the home’s orientation take full advantage of cooling breezes?

  • Are landscaping, sheds and garages positioned to help funnel breezes over, under and through the house?


  • Are all (including southern) windows shaded with extended eaves or vertical shading?

  • Is there specialist glass, such as Low-e, tinted/toned or low SHGC?

  • Are all windows 100% openable, such as louvre or casement?

  • Can windows be left open safely at night or modified with security screens to allow night ventilation?


  • Does it have appropriate insulation (R3.5 or higher) to minimise heat gain during the day and maximise heat loss at night?

  • Is there ventilation in roof spaces (fans or whirlybirds) and good design for condensation removal?


  • Is passive cooling maximised in living areas?

  • If an air conditioner is installed is it in an insulated sealable area of the house?

  • Is the air conditioner an efficient model with a high star rating?

  • Is it possible to install whole-of-house fans with smart switching to draw cooler air in at night when there is no breeze?


  • Can air conditioned areas and sleeping spaces be isolated to minimise energy use?

Sustainability features

  • Is there energy-efficient lighting with dimmer controls?

  • Are there energy-efficient appliances with thermostat controls?

  • Are there water-saving taps, toilets and showerheads, water tanks, greywater system?

  • Does it have solar PV panels?

Outdoor living

  • Does it include screened outdoor living areas?

  • Are there garden ponds and water features to provide evaporative cooling?

  • Is there energy and water efficient landscaping?

Living local

  • Is the home located close to schools, shops and amenities?

  • Are travel times to work suitable for your family and time of life?

NatHERS house energy efficiency rating label showing a 6.5 star rating