A house design may incorporate some elements of passive solar design or it may go the whole way and bend every consideration to tapping the sun’s energy. The choice is yours. But best of all, a passive solar designed house can be low-tech and no more expensive than standard construction. Free solar heat is an age-old benefit, and a house that correctly incorporates its principles will provide year-round comfort and enjoyment
The first consideration is the position of the house in relation to the sun. A north-facing aspect is ideal. In the southern hemisphere, the sun travels in a northerly arc from east to west. The north side of the house should ave the most windows and the biggest windows. Sun will pour through them for much of the day. The more elongated the house is along the east-west axis (stretched like a sausage, if you like), the better. The east and west walls should also have windows, not necessarily so big, to catch morning and afternoon sun. The south side should have only enough windows for ventilation purposes. It’s the cold side.
If possible, position the house well clear of buildings and trees that will cast shadows and block valuable winter sun. Equally, consider planting deciduous trees closer to help prevent summer overheating. On the subject of overheating, eaves of the correct depth will block the worst of summer sun but let in winter sun. There are other options, too, such as louvers, shade sails, shutters and awnings.
Layout of rooms
The rooms on the north side should be the most used (living areas, in other words). The least used rooms (bathrooms, laundry, garage, guest bedroom) should go on the south side. Bedrooms and the kitchen are best on the east side (because they need early morning heating, and in the case of the kitchen, afternoon coolness). As an exercise, assess your existing home, or neighbours’ or friends’ homes, against this idea arrangement. One or two are sure to have a cozy garage for the car, but a cold lounge for the car’s owners!
Ideal orientation of rooms for solar heating
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, May 2000
This arrangement of rooms and windows around the different points of the compass is the optimum one, and when you have a big blank canvas, that is, plenty of flat, empty land, not especially difficult to accomplish. In compact, hilly urban settings, compromises and more complex arrangement of spaces will be necessary. The same goes if you are attempting to modify or extend an existing home. Nonetheless, it is worth the effort because your home will be warmer, lighter and altogether more pleasant to live in. And your power bills will be lower.