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Energy-saving guide for Northern Australia

Hot arid checklist (climate zone 3)

Things to look for when buying, building, renovating or renting a home in a hot arid zone.

Woman getting a home energy audit from a qualified assessor.

For an existing home

Check the house’s energy rating 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 the architect-designed 7 star house plans. These include supporting information to achieve a 7 star NatHERS rating or higher.

Building layout and design

  • Is there a compact floor plan with features to protect from extremes of temperature, such as high windows to encourage air movement and solar chimneys?

  • Does it allow for heat release through well-positioned windows (such as highlight windows) and cross-ventilation, and night purging through roof vents?

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

Construction type

  • Does it use materials with high thermal mass such as concrete, bricks and tiles?

  • Has heat gain and loss been minimised through insulation?

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


  • Are living areas north facing?

  • Can winter sun enter the living space?

  • Is the northern shading adjustable (to block summer sun and allow in winter sun)?


  • Is there specialist glass, such as low-e, tinted/ toned or in areas to north high SHGC glazing ?

  • For areas with winters, is double glazing fitted?

  • Is there summer shading on all east and west-facing glass?

  • Is there shade on south-facing glass (if north of the tropic of Capricorn)?


  • Is there bulk and reflective insulation in ceilings (R3.5 or higher)?

  • Does a metal deck roof have a combined batt and foil reflective product directly below the roof, as well as a bulk insulation above the ceiling?

  • Is all insulation in ceilings and walls designed to control condensation?

  • If the design includes elevated floors, are these insulated?

  • Are there well-sealed internal spaces to manage inside air temperatures between night and day and across the seasons?

Heating and cooling

  • Is evaporative cooling installed in living areas?

  • If air conditioning is installed, is it an efficient model with a high star rating?

  • Does the design allow for passive solar heating in winter through exposed thermal mass?


  • 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 that allow winter sun penetration?

  • 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 your place of work suitable for your family and time of life?


NatHERS house energy efficiency rating label showing a 6.5 star rating.