Vital to design ethos is PASSIVE SOLAR DESIGN.
This blog will explore:
What does this mean? and
Why and how is it to be incorporate it into our homes?
Passive Solar Design is the use of the natural elements-our micro climate of our sites, to enhance our creature comforts of our homes in relation to heating, cooling, ventilation, aesthetics, privacy etc. Sites have different attributes and features, some good and some not so good: the conditions to work with. Here are a few of the very basics to use where ever possible:
Design to allow the sunshine into as much of the living areas as possible. In winter this maybe all the heating required. For summer we shade the windows which is not difficult as the sun is at a higher angle. Present a shoulder to the worst of the weather usually from the south or west: ideal for garage, laundry, bathrooms where windows are smaller and rooms used less often. Be sure to take into account features of the site: slope, views, established trees or gardens etc. · ZONES: Where possible plan living areas to the north as per above. Be conscious of social and private areas, vistas and air transfer between the two. Air-locks at external doors will retain the heat or cool comfort separated in the main rooms.
Using materials that are excellent at insulating and have high thermal mass (like bricks and concrete that absorb heat from sun and disperse it into surroundings when the air temperature is lower) ensures a minimum of temperature variation. With a well sealed building this will assist the maintenance of a comfortable living environment.
The surrounding spaces to the home are often established as an after thought but would be more beneficial if designed along with the house plan. Planting larger trees, roughing in levels and planning "outdoor rooms" can be started more easily before the build is too advanced. The finished spaces will influence the comfort of the home a great deal.
None of the above suggestions add to the initial costs of the build but assist the consistent temperature control that adds to our comfort. More importantly it will reduce the power and gas bills substantially which in turn lowers our dependence on the non-renewable resources of the Earth: and that has to be a great thing!
Margot Kirke is a qualified architectural drafts person with a passion for practical living, making the best use of space and use of natural light and warmth.