Passive Solar House Design Principles
Passive solar house design principles can greatly enhance the affordability and liveability of your home.
So let’s take a look at what passive solar house design is and how it can benefit your home.
What is passive solar house design?
Passive solar house design principles help keep your home at a comfortable temperature naturally by taking advantage of the sun and airflow in and around your home. It allows you to keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer using natural climatic conditions.
A home that has been well designed following these principles will typically stay within a range of 19 – 28 degrees Celsius without the need for artificial heating or cooling on all but the hottest or coldest days. And because you have less need for heaters or air conditioners you can save substantially on your power bills.
What are some examples of passive solar house design principles?
There are many factors that go into successful passive solar house design. Here is an overview of just some of the driving principles involved:
Top of the list is the direction that your home faces, and the placement of rooms within your home, relevant to the path of the sun. In cooler climates the focus is often on capturing heat during the colder winter months. However given Brisbane’s sub-tropical climate a greater focus here tends to be on minimising heat during the warmer months.
Shading is a key principle of passive solar house design. In simple terms the sun travels through the sky in a lower arch in the winter and in a higher arch in the summer. In the winter we want to let the warming rays in and in summer we want to keep that hot direct sunlight out.
Having verandahs or deep eaves that stop the higher summer sun from striking the windows can drastically reduce internal temperatures, whilst still allowing the lower winter sun to warm the home naturally. Curtains, blinds, shutters, awnings and plants can also be effective in regulating the amount of heat entering your home.
Glazing & Insulation:
There is not much point to taking advantage of passive solar principles if unwanted heat, or cold, can enter your home. Whilst ceiling insulation is quite common, rising electricity prices have resulted in wall and even floor insulation becoming common inclusions in many new homes and renovations.
Cutting down on drafts and blocking areas where desirable heat or cold air can escape is also important, particularly in older homes and is something that should be considered as part of any renovation.
With cooling being a major consideration in Queensland, ventilation takes on an increased significance in any passive solar design. Careful planning of windows, shutters and louvers in relation to prevailing breezes across your property can make a significant difference to the temperature within your home. Cross ventilation that moves the air through your home has a natural cooling effect which if done correctly can dramatically reduce the need for artificial cooling.
Thermal mass is essentially a solid material – concrete, stone, clay, rammed earth or brick for example – that absorbs and transfers heat. Thermal mass is often used in colder climate to help warm homes naturally. The material absorbs sunlight during the day and releases it in the evening to help warm the home. However it can also work in reverse taking heat from the interior and releasing it outside if designed correctly.
The science to truly taking advantage of passive solar design principles is one that few building designers truly understand and yet the benefits passive solar design offers are enormous both in terms of comfort levels and lower power prices. If saving money and getting a great outcome is important to you in relation to your project, I would recommend you contact us today and let us help you take advantage of passive solar design principles in your new home or renovation.