Passive Solar House
A passive solar house is a great way to reduce energy consumption without breaking the bank. Passive solar houses are designed to maximize the energy from the sun without having solar collectors or other extra systems.
One of the first things to consider when looking at a passive solar design is the available solar energy in your part of the country.
Another important aspect of passive solar design is the positioning of your home in relation to the sun. As we all know, the position of the sun is constantly changing with the seasons. This means that you want to figure out how you want to capture the solar energy that is best suited to your needs. For example, if you live in a hot climate then you want to position your home so that it does not receive the full heat of the sun during the summer, but is positioned to capture the energy when the seasons turn cooler.
Positioning your windows and doors are another thing to keep in mind. If you can position your windows to allow the energy into the house when you want it, and be shaded when you need that, then you will be able to maximize the passive solar design. Selecting and installing energy efficient glass is also important. These windows might cost more initially, but you will recoup this additional cost rather quickly with reduced energy bills.
Thermal mass is a critical part of passive solar design. This is exposed materials within the house that absorb the solar heat and release it slowly through the night/cold days. The most common material used for this is concrete. Concrete has the ability to absorb solar energy and then hold and slowly release it. This can be done by using cement floors that are exposed to the sun, or cement walls that can be exposed.
Another low cost move would be to locate your HVAC system in the best location for your climate. For example, in hot climates it would be best to locate the system in the shade so that it doesn't need to work as hard. This is another aspect of passive design: It doesn't create energy, but it saves energy.
For additional information, including illustrations of the basic passive solar concepts, click here.