By utilizing passive concepts in the design of your home, your heating and cooling costs will be dramatically reduced and your home, your heating and cooling costs will be dramatically reduced and your home will be more comfortable at the same time. Passive Solar Design will lower your need for energy production and thus reduce the price of your solar electric system. The following three subjects should be considered when designing your home to take advantage of the heating and cooling processes that occur naturally.

In a few words, orientation means maximizing heat gain during the heating season and minimizing heat gain during the cooling season by correctly siting your building on the property. For maximum effectiveness, nothing should block the sun's rays during the critical midwinter months. Losses due to shading by adjacent buil dings, walls, or even vegetation such as bare tree branches must be considered. The difference between the relative position of winter and summer sun allows the same building, properly designed, to receive heat in the winter and be shaded in the summer. By locating the south glass so that it is perpendicular to the sun's rays during the time when solar heating is most needed, the designer can maximize desirable solar input. Likewise, minimizing the areas of the east and west walls and their openings will minimize unwanted heat gain during the summer. Roof overhangs can shade walls and windows from the summer sun. The same walls and windows, if oriented correctly, will be exposed to the sun;s rays during the winter months due tot he different angle of the sun. This will help heat the home and in many cases amount to the majority of any heating needed.

Building Design
With the right design, the heating and cooling needs can be met easily and natural lighting used as well. Sunshine brightens rooms on the eastern side of the building in the morning and on the western side in the afternoon. So the southeast corner is a perfect place for the kitchen and the southwest corner is ideal for a living room. Where daytime heating is less critical, as in bedrooms, they can be located on the north side. Closets, stairwells, and utility rooms might be placed there too. One of the most important choices in creating an efficient home design is the use of massive (heavy) materials in side the insulation envelope.

Building Materials
Materials with a lot of mass will radiate stored heat or cold to the internal spaces, acting as a thermal flywheel, balancing temperatures and keeping the internal spaces o f your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the year. Although insulation is important, without mass there is little thermal storage and the structure cannot well utilize the abundance of energy striking the home during the day, thus additional heating becomes necessary. In a well insulated but mass deficient home, once the sun goes down a heater is required as soon as any window or door is opened. But in a massive home, though a window or door might be opened, thermal storage will not be affected and the walls will maintain their temperature. In other words, in winter, the walls slowly heat up over the entire day. Due to their mass, they will release this energy and provide needed heating over a long time as well (all night). Before they give up all their energy, it is daytime again and they begin to store up more thermal energy (heat) from the sun. The entire process works in reverse during the summertime.


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