We learned last week that sunlight is nature’s stress-buster, because it positively impacts both physical and mental health. If you're lacking in the natural light department your mood will suffer. But did you know that sunlight can also help you save money on lighting and heating bills? Simply designing your home around how the sun moves throughout the day will help make your home more energy efficient and pleasant to live in. The fancy term is “passive solar building design”. In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. In this post we are going to discuss taking advantage of the sun to produce the most heat and light. In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. In this post we are going to discuss taking advantage of the sun to produce the most heat and light.
Design your home to take advantage of the sun all day. Think of a house as four distinct sections…north, south, east and west. Each section has its own potential for daylight and free heat, depending on the sun's position during the day.
Morning sun is dominant in east-facing rooms. Locate kitchens, dining rooms and breakfast nooks on the east wall to make the most of light potential early in the day. Using dense flooring materials like, tile, stone or hardwood in these rooms will help with the heat gain. Bedrooms with east-facing windows will be great for early risers but terrible for people who like to sleep in.
Sunlight is strongest on the south wall. The south section of your home is the best place for your main living areas, the space that will be used most throughout the day. This is another area where using dense flooring materials will help with heat gain.
Early evening light from the west is at a low angle. Because the sun is so low in the sky, west-facing windows get direct sunlight blazing through them. In Michiana, this is the last chance of the day to soak up some sun; West-facing rooms are a bad choice for media rooms because strong light makes screens harder to see. However, west bedrooms are great for people who like to sleep in because the room is very dark in the morning.
North rooms have the least natural light. They also have the greatest potential for heat loss through windows. This is a good place for bathrooms, sleeping porches, offices, utility rooms, entries, and other rooms where natural light isn't as important.
Martin Brothers features a home on our website that includes passive solar design in the overall house layout including fenestration and main rooms on an east/west axis for good solar orientation. We recommend working with an architect who is familiar with local climate and topography when designing your new home. Feel free to visit our website for a list of local architects.