Positioning a building to enable it to utilize the suns energy for providing heat, is not a new concept. New advances in technology, however, make designing a home for optimum solar gain, a lot easier than before. What are some of the methods that homes can be designed and constructed to enable them to work with natural elements like the sun?
When a home is still in its design phase, computer models can show with precision how a home should be positioned and designed in order to get maximum solar gain, as well as seasonal thermal performance.
While it is important that the structure of the home should be positioned correctly. The floor plan is also an important part of the process. When considering the position of rooms such as the living room and kitchen, that are most lived in, these would want to be designed so that they benefit from the suns rays in the winter, but also enjoy shade in the summer. This is also important when planning the position of patios and decks.
Areas of a house that are not used as much like garages and laundry rooms don’t need to benefit as much from the suns heat, so can be planned out in a similar way.
What about the strategic positioning of trees? If placed in the right spot, they will provide much needed shade in the summer. At the same time though, you don’t want them to stop that much needed sunlight in the winter. So then, much thought and good planning must be taken when determining which type of tree is best, and factors such as whether it will loose its leaves in the winter.
Optimizing natural energy is an important step in the design process, but this has been only some of the ideas. In our next article we will consider a few more of these.
Mike McFadden, Certified Master Home Inspector in Orlando, FL