Passive Solar Design
Building a home offers the best opportunity to capitalize on the sun’s free power. To receive the most benefit, a home’s south side should be oriented to within 30 degrees of due south, with its long axis running east and west. This allows the home to best receive low-angle winter sun, which will reduce heating bills and reject direct overhead sunlight, which will reduce cooling bills.
Building materials also affect a home’s overall energy efficiency. Concrete, masonry, wallboard and water absorb and store the sun’s heat, releasing it slowly as the temperature lowers. This slow energy release can keep a home warmer on cool nights and more impervious to temperature fluctuations. Floor coverings such as carpet, however, tend to hamper this thermal mass absorption and transfer process.
Effectively employ natural light inside a home by strategically placing windows to introduce more light into a room and adding glazing to walls and floors to reflect the light. As a rule of thumb, using daylight requires that a minimum of 5 percent of the floor have glazing. Contemporary glazing offers less glare and more glow for comfortable, even lighting.