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How do I Choose the Best Passive Solar House Plan?

Jordan Weagly
Jordan Weagly

Whether you're retrofitting an existing structure or making an entirely new house, there are so many options and variables to consider that it might seem like a daunting task to find the best passive solar house plan. Finding the best solar house plan might require a fair amount of research, because it is a complex project involving many variables. There are, however, three major factors to consider that probably will make the most significant difference: the amount of sunlight falling on the house, the overall house design and unique local weather patterns.

The best passive solar house plan usually will integrate the unique sunlight patterns of the potential house location. For every location on Earth, the sun's angle is a little different throughout the year. For instance, in the northern hemisphere, the best passive solar house plan will usually face south, where the sun will be all year, but a passive solar house in the southern hemisphere usually will face north. The best passive solar house plan will take full advantage of any available sunlight while simultaneously optimizing interior spaces to regulate the sunlight. A house in an area with intense summer sun probably should include overhangs to keep the house cooler during the summer.

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Houses might include features that make sense for the house's location, and the best passive solar house plan usually will vary depending on the local weather. For instance, houses in cold climates might feature passive heating, and houses in hot climates might feature passive cooling. Studying the local climate from past weather records might help determine how many days out of the year sunlight can be expected in an area and how effective the passive solar house plan could be.

Certain building materials might also work better in one area than another because of the weather. Knowing which materials work best at the house's location can help with selecting the best passive solar house plan. Seeking advice from real people who have experience designing effective systems can help turn research into practical knowledge. It might help to ask local building professionals or civic organizations about the materials that have been effective in the past. The best passive solar house plan probably will use the most effective materials and the best configuration of those materials.

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