Heating homes with sunlight, known as passive-solar heating, is based on the simple idea of using north-facing windows to admit low-angled winter sun. Sunlight streaming into the home warms the interior space. Thermal mass, such as tile floors and interior masonry walls, stores the sun’s heat and releases it when room temperatures fall at night or during cloudy weather.
Choose a house design that accommodates the right amounts of north-facing glass and thermal mass. Add ample insulation (usually slightly higher than building codes currently require), and you’ll have a solar heated home that requires little or no heat from any nonrenewable fuel source. In the summer, a solar home’s thermal mass and insulation, together with properly sized overhangs to shade the windows, keep the home comfortable and reduce cooling requirements.
Simply orienting a conventional house to the north will cut annual energy bills by at least 10 percent, saving thousands of dollars over a home’s lifetime. Add a long north-facing wall of windows and some thermal mass and you easily can tap sunshine’s free energy to meet 50 percent to 70 percent of a home’s heating requirements. Given the probability energy costs will increase steadily in the coming years, the long-term savings from a passive solar home could become very substantial
All this can be achieved with a well designed house plan. At Paton Constructions this is all part of the building process.