Ecologically sustainable house design is the result of the integration of a number of important design components that when used appropriately will improve the comfort of your home while at the same time reducing the environmental loads that your home produces.
Passive solar design is one of the most important of those design components.
Within passive solar design there's a number of important design components that must be coordinated and integrated to maximise your design function. It is important to note that using one passive solar design principle without the others can significantly minimise the benefits to your home and can in some case make it worse.
By using the sun and wind to your advantage it is possible to significantly increase natural heating in winter and cooling in summer at no cost to your pocket or the environment, no mechanical intervention for heating or cooling is needed.
This is where the 'passive' definition comes from.
During summer, direct sunlight produces around 1000watts /sq metre of heat energy onto every sq metre of the surface of our planet, whether it is a tree or a brick wall!
This is the equivalent of a 2 bar radiator being directed at every sq metre of the external face of your home. Your roof, your walls, your doors and your windows. That is a lot of heat. It is easy to imagine how hot that will make your home in summer, yet in winter you want every bit of that energy, that sunlight, to heat your home.
The correct design principles will help you to take advantage of all that nature provides and use it to your advantage.
Capturing the direct sun in winter and using it to heat the home but rejecting it in summer to assist with cooling are two of the benefits of passive solar design
If your home doesn't use solar designed principles then you will always be trying to ameliorate the effects of excess sun in summer and insufficient sun in winter.Energy sapping, costly and green house gas producing air conditioning or other artificial heating and cooling is usually the end result in a home that has not been designed with Passive Solar Design features.
In addition, specifically designed shading regimes can assist with heating and cooling while breezes provided by nature can be manipulated through and around your home to provide cooling and ventilation in summer and reduce heating loads in winter.
Another great benefit of a site specific passive solar designed home is increased daylighting .
This will help in reducing artificial lighting demands while also improving the internal amenity and health of your home.
It is important to remember that Passive Solar Design is not generic.
There is no 'one size fits all' home design. The principles are the same but the application is very site specific.
You will gain the most benefit from a passive solar home if it is designed specifically for the location it is built in. It doesn't mean extra costs either. This is understandably a great concern for most people. Turning the building to gain the most northern sun in winter, suitably designed shading and window location for sunlight and breeze management do not cost extra. You were going to put those items in your home any way. Passive solar design ensures you put them in the correct place and configuration to create benefit.
With some thought and suitable design knowledge, you will reap those benefits every day for decades to come.