Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Side Elevations and Passive Solar

You might wonder exactly what makes our home green. Just like the color, eco-design has varying shades. We've tried to incorporate all of the green elements that we could afford. One green principle that costs little to nothing is Passive Solar, which includes correct orientation of the home to the sun and the placement of windows.

If the long sides of a home face north and south and the windows are placed correctly, you can significantly reduce cooling bills in the summer and heating bills in the winter. Here in Texas, cooling is much more expensive than heating, but we do get a few months that require heat. While windows gain and lose heat much quicker than an insulated wall or roof, they also provide light to cheer the soul and reduce the need for electricity during the day.

The first elevation of our home shown above faces north. It has only a few windows, which provide daylighting but minimize heat gain and loss. The second elevation is to the south. This side offers a view of Lake Travis and contains the most glazing. To reduce heat gain in the summer, the largest windows are covered by the roof over the deck and patio. The other windows are either covered by a roof overhang or by individual roof awnings. The overhangs and awnings are calculated to provide the most shade in the summer when the sun is high in the sky.

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