The building materials you use can greatly affect your family’s comfort and home energy bills. The choice of construction material for external walls is a major factor in the thermal efficiency of your home. Start with choosing light colours for walls and roofing to better reflect the heat of the sun.

The extent to which your walls and roof absorb and hold heat and then transfer it into your home is called thermal mass. Your choice of building materials and type of house construction will influence your home's thermal mass. Materials such as bricks and concrete have a higher thermal mass than timber and fibrous sheeting.

Thermal mass is one strategy that can be used when building an energy efficient home. Thermal mass is very effective in locations with a big difference in night and day outdoor temperatures, which is particularly the case in western areas of Queensland or in the Tablelands.

Use concrete blocks or brick walls to absorb heat from the sun during the day then release it into the home during the night. If block or brick walls are shaded from the sun at the hottest parts of the day they stay cooler and have a moderating effect.

Use lightweight materials with a low thermal mass like timber and fibrous sheeting if you want to release heat quickly after the sun has gone. This can be suitable for coastal areas which tend to have smaller differences in night and day outdoor temperatures.

Watch out for paved areas, driveways and roads nearby – they will reflect and re-radiate heat into your home, so consider shading and adding greenery to these areas also.

Where can I find more information?

Our booklet, The energy sense home (PDF 4.9 mb), provides advice on simple choices to help you make your new home the best it can be.

Visit the YourHome website for more information on thermal mass and how you can lower your energy use.