7 Principles for Passive Solar Design

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Passive solar design is a method of designing and building a house to use the sun’s rays to your advantage. While we are seeing a global trend in using solar panels to produce more energy for family homes and businesses, we believe there will be a shift to utilise solar in more innovative ways. Passive solar design should be an aspect of a holistic approach to design. It involves balancing the function and aesthetics of a home, with the effects of the sun on the home.

The goal is to design the home so the sun heats the home in winter but minimises the sun’s heat absorption during the summer. This method of natural heating and cooling your home is one of the most efficient and effective ways of reducing your energy consumption and therefore your carbon footprint. While your typical solar system can be useful in producing some electricity for use in your home or put back into the grid for credit, it’s not the most efficient and effective way to utilise the power of the sun.

If you’re looking to design your house to make the most of solar, of course we are passionate about our own Solar Air Collectors. Here are a few additional solar principles to bear in mind:

1. Consider the site orientation

If it’s an option for you, choose your site with it’s orientation in mind. Of course it’s not always an option if you are selecting a block to build on for its outlook however, if you goal is to build a green home, the site is important. A north facing outlook can be beneficial. Monitor the sun’s path on a potential piece of land to get an understanding of how the sun may affect your home in summer and in winter. The sun is lower in the winter and higher in the summer which will help when it comes to utilising it’s benefits. It’s also worthwhile considering any wind factor in the area. If you are lucky enough to be building along the coast, you’ll need to consider any coastal breeze likely at your property.

2. Position your building correctly

If your land allows for it, position the building’s long axis to be facing the north where you can maximise windows to allow sunlight in during the winter and large eaves to stop the summer sun from shining in. This is how you can use the varying sun height to your advantage.

3. Positions the rooms within the house

Rooms that are used during the day, such as your living room should be placed on the northern side of the building where possible as this is the side of the building that will benefit most from passive solar heat. Bedrooms and other rooms that are mostly used in the evening and night can be positioned on the southern side since the sun has no impact at that time.

4. Use your windows strategically

Consider where your windows will be placed. While facing your house north will help, there may be other factors such and trees or other building nearby that have an impact on how sunlight enters your property. Use double glazed windows to insulate your home since windows are the biggest culprit for heat-loss in most homes.

5. Use shade to cool your home

Building standards have improved in recent times from an energy efficiency standpoint. There are options to further enhance your homes energy use. Strategically placing deciduous trees to shelter your home from the sun in summer and allow sunlight through in the winter can have a significant impact on the temperature of your home.

6. Invest in insulation

As mentioned, the minimum standards for insulation are now far superior to what they once were however there’s still options to further enhance the insulation of your home. All the effort you make to harness the benefits of the Australian sun should be supported by high-end insulation. If you are using cladding there are options in quality and energy rating that should be considered. All building materials these days come with energy ratings and sometimes making small tweaks to the materials you use can have a dramatic effect on the energy efficiency. It’s best to seek expert advice since the options are many, with multiple factors at play.

7. Ventilate your home

Sometimes when designing a home for energy efficiency, particularly for passive solar, ventilation can be neglected. Without proper ventilation, the air in your home may become stale and can cause respiratory problems and mould growth in your home. This is where our solar ventilators are most beneficial, they’ll use the power the sun too ventilate and dehumidify the air while also controlling the temperature.

There are many factors at play when it comes to designing a home to suit your needs so it functions how you need it to along with its energy efficiency and aesthetics. Every family has its own needs and every location has its own set of pros and cons. Contact us today to see how our products may best suit your needs.