Sun-Inspired Homes for a Brighter Perspective

sun-inspired homes for a brighter perspective
Today, many countries including the Philippines are using solar systems and other solar technology in their homes to make it more sun-inspired. After all, there are several benefits to having one installed in your homes aside from minimizing the cost of your electricity bill.

In 2010, Mother Earth News which is an American magazine interviewed Debra Rucker Coleman, an architect, who has a heightened interest in designing solar-inspired or passive solar homes.

She started designing her first project back in 1985 and has since then worked with different individuals to make more passive solar homes.

What are the basic elements to a sun-inspired design?

Coleman says that there are four major elements in designing a passive solar house in any climate and environment.

• Orientation – This is the most important element out of the four items on this list because if you want your home to be sun-inspired, then you have to make sure that the longest side in your house faces to the south direction.

• Window Placement – Window placement is the next important item to orientation. Coleman says that the majority of your windows should be facing towards the south side of your house, particularly those who live in the Northern Hemisphere in the United States.

• Overhang – The overhang for your south windows is third in this list. Trees and porches will be able to provide your home some shade and protection for your south, east, and west windows.

• Thermal Mass – Last but not least, thermal mass is important to consider for having a passive solar house for it helps store the sun’s heat.

When should you add a thermal mass to your house?

It is economical for you to decide to add a thermal mass to your own home, if you have 4-inches of stone veneer or brick on your interior walls. It could also work when you have a 4-inch-thick concrete slab on your foundation or even an 8-inch-thick concrete block of walls.

Those people who chose ICFs or insulated concrete forms for their houses have an inherent (thermal) mass installed in their abodes; whereas those who live in a typical building with wall systems like Sheetrock does not need to install additional thermal mass.

What should people consider if they want passive solar homes?

Coleman says that homeowners should first determine their needs according to their land, compact floor plan, and lifestyle when considering and/or designing a sun-inspired house. They should know whether their floor plan allows extra insulation.

Second, she suggests that people should really consider installing low-tech and simple heating systems.
Third and lastly, they should contemplate putting active solar technology such as photovoltaic and solar hot water in their homes.

Why should climate be a factor on how you design your sun-inspired house?

According to Coleman, there is only very little variations when it comes to the requirements and the design of a basic passive solar home, if you consider the climate. She says that places with warmer climates like Florida and the Philippines should have their south-facing glass somewhat reduced. You would want to avoid installing a south glass that goes above 7% of the floor plan for this may result to overheating.

Does having a passive solar home cost more?

Coleman says that designing and building a sun-inspired house is not necessarily more expensive. She says that architects who care for passive solar designs find cost-effective ways so that they will not hurt the budget of the homeowner. She says that they arrange the thermal mass, overhangs, and windows in a way that improves home comfort, lessen energy consumption, and increase home performance.

She says many solar-inspired homes have been designed and built with no extra cost or whatsoever.

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