There are three main climate Zones in Australia. It is imperative to define the climate Zone you live in before you begin even thinking about your new home. The climate you live in will affect many decisions you make about all aspects of your house design.
A term which will be discussed many times in the designing of your house is Thermal Comfort. This term basically refers to how comfortable a human feels in a room or space at any given time.
Elements that contribute to how we perceive our Thermal Comfort are:
Humidity (amount of moisture in the air)
Radiant heat (from the sun, thermal mass and our surroundings)
Also relevant to your perception of Thermal Comfort are:
The type of activity you are doing
Whether you have acclimatised to your surroundings
Characteristics of the different Climate Zones according to the Bureau of Meteorology Australia:
Generally accepted to be a relatively comfortable climate
Mild to warm summers and cool winters
The need for winter home heating is greater than the need for summer cooling (note that this is changing with our recent hot summers)
Nearer the coast, summers are cooler and winters warmer than further inland.
In the mountains of the Great Dividing Range, winters are cold and summers are pleasantly mild.
Remember you are lucky to be living in a climate where mechanised (ie. powered) heating and cooling can be successfully eliminated with some careful planning.
Hot Dry Climate
Summers are hot to very hot and it seldom rains.
Winter days may be cool or warm, and winter nights can be very cold.
The air is dry and there is little cloud.
Sunshine is intense and glare can be a problem.
There is a big temperature difference between day and night.
Remember there are many places in the world with a hot dry climate. Borrow books on Egyptian and Mexican architecture if you want to be inspired!
Warm Humid Climate
Summers in this climatic zone are warm and very humid.
In most parts of the zone, summer will be rainy.
Winters are warm, dry and sunny.
Coastal areas are subject to tropical cyclones/hurricanes.
It is the least comfortable Australian climate.
The body's natural cooling system (the evaporation of perspiration) does not work well, because the air is already so full of water vapour that it cannot hold much more.
Remember the best way to keep cool in this climate is through air movement. Natural ventilation can be very successful in keeping your house cool. In many parts of the world it is the only method used.