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Cost Effective Passive Solar Design Concepts

A Passive Solar Heating Design

Homes can be designed using a passive solar design or an active solar design. Passive solar should not be confused with active solar design or photovoltaic solar cells. The marriage of passive solar design with zero energy homes makes cost-effective heating and cooling possible. In both types of solar design, solar energy is collected in various places throughout the structure. Once energy-efficient features are in place, the use of passive solar energy becomes more viable. Trapping solar energy is the first step in passive solar heating.

The Most Commonly Isolated-gain Passive Solar Home Design

When all the right design elements are incorporated the result is a home which uses passive solar design to keep your home comfortable without using a lot of energy. There are many ways to design a custom, passive solar, sustainable, green home. Passive solar design, known to the ancients, has been completely abandoned in the past few hundred years when it comes to modern home design and construction. The passive solar thermal building design may look ostentatious but it is actually a home, made comfortable by green energy. To design a completely passive solar home, you need to incorporate what are considered the five elements of passive solar design. You can apply passive solar design techniques most easily when designing a new home.

The Side Of The Home Facing South

The majority of windows are located on the north and south facades with the south side windows  having adequate shade protection. The most frequently used rooms should be placed along the longer, south side of the house, where sunlight can enter through the windows . In temperate Northern zones, buildings are constructed with few windows on the Northern side and large, wide windows on the Southern side. The equator-facing side of a building is south in the northern hemisphere, and north in the southern hemisphere. Houses are constructed, in the northern hemisphere, with their long axis in an East-West direction. There is berming on the north, east, and west sides of the house.

Unwanted Heat Gain And Glaring Direct Sunlight

The direct gain passive solar collector absorbed more heat than most other types of passive solar collectors. In a direct gain space, solar energy penetrates directly into the space where it is stored and used. Direct gain attempts to control the amount of direct solar radiation reaching the living space. The simplest method of transferring the heat from passive solar collectors is through convection. Both increase overall cost, and the latter will reduce the amount of solar gain into the sun space. Direct gain is the simplest and most intuitive of passive solar designs.

Cooler Than The Air Leaving The Top Vent

The hot air rises and cool air is drawn in low through vents or windows in the wall on the shaded side of the house. The top and bottom vents continue to circulate air as long as the air entering the bottom vent is cooler than the air leaving the top vent. As hot air is drawn out, the cooler, moist air from the cool tower is drawn into and through the master bedroom. Natural convection causing rising warm air and falling cooler air can result in an uneven stratification of heat. As warm air moves through the vents, cooler room air is drawn through the lower vents, where it is warmed and rises to repeat the action. The fresh air intake is on the windward side, and the stale air exhaust is on the leeward side.

Thermal Mass Large Enough For Annualized Heat Storage

Active solar heating systems require the use of solar thermal collector to absorb sunlight in order to collect and store heat. When heat is not needed, the excess solar heat in the Trombe wall is absorbed and stored by the high-mass wall. By spreading sunlight out over thermal surfaces, heat is stored for later use. The surface sits in the direct path of the sunlight, which hits the surface and is absorbed as heat. The thermal mass continues to absorb and store heat to radiate back into the room after the sun has gone. The sunlight is converted to heat energy, which heats both the air and thermal mass materials.

Your Solar Collectors Used For Water Heating

Flat plate solar collectors mounted on south elevations can be used to provide solar heated liquid for space and domestic water heating. Now with the rising costs of fossil fuels, solar hot water heating is making a comeback. Flat plate collectors provide heated liquid for domestic hot water and radiant floors. The collectors are placed below the thermal storage, which in turn is placed lower than the space it is to heat. Colder water from the bottom of the storage tank will be drawn into the lower entry of the solar collector to replace the heated water that was therm o-siphoned upward. A heat exchanger in the solar tank is used to provide domestic hot water.

Square Ft. Costs

As a builder I often get asked  “What does a building cost per square foot to build?” Two story homes are typically the most cost-effective. building additional square footage under the same roof and foundation size will save you money. on your project.

Small is Big |Backyard Tiny Houses

 Lowering Costs of Small Buildings

Many tiny houses are used as guest rooms and are located near an existing home with accommodations. This approach saves the costs of adding a bath and kitchen.

Close proximity to the main house can save big when it comes to gaining additional living space for guests without adding a bath and kitchen, plumbing, electrical, foundation costs and permits. 

A small space can have a big feel if a bath and or kitchen is not sharing available square footage.

An unplumbed building not being used on a regular basis does not require constant heating and with a passive solar design and super insulation will heat passively during the day time sun.

The building above is a guest room with a loft and has been used by a student, visiting guests, and occasionally as an art studio.

7 Smart Home Essentials

1) A meal will sustain you for a few hours.

2) A pair of shoes will last months or maybe a year.

3) A car can last a decade but a home should last a lifetime.

4) Americans now spend on average 87% of their time indoors. When planning to build a home one should take into account the overall quality of the environment.

5) Factors that make up the living space should benefit the occupants.

6) Natural lighting, air quality, openness , how living space flows from area to area are all important for body and mind wellness.

7) The time it takes to intelligently plan for your home will have returns for the rest of your stay.


New Sage Homes I Backyard Models


As Featured on Tinyhouseblog


Simple Compact Architecture

Ideal Shape for a Low Energy House

New Sage Homes follows green homes guidelines by building with simple compact architecture. Square compact shapes retains an extraordinary area to volume ratio. It is an almost ideal shape for a low energy house. To check the optimality of a certain house shape we calculate a Area to volume ratio – the rate between house envelope area (A) and house heated volume (V). More energy efficient houses have lower ratios. Interestingly, more thermally efficient building shapes in most cases also mean lower construction expenses, as there is less wall/roof/foundation for the same space.

High Performance Building Envelopes

Simple Compact Architecture at New Sage Homes is combining efficient architecture utilizing high performance building envelopes which in turn results in additional energy costs savings for the life of the home.  Low Energy Home

Super Insulated Building

Insulated building is now a force in the marketplace. Super energy efficient building practices are included in Canadian building codes and are standard practice in many parts of Europe. Changes to the Model Energy Code have been implemented by the US Department of Energy and US Department of Housing and Urban Development in this country. Monetary incentives, such as Energy Rated Mortgage which increase the borrowing power of buyers of energy efficient homes, are in place at banks right now.

Energy Performance Rating System

Programs like the Energy Star Homes Program, sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, encourage builders to build low energy homes and provide a rating system to evaluate energy performance.
New Sage Homes consumers who are interested in healthy indoor environments, decreased energy costs, environmental friendly lifestyles, and quality in their homes can insure that high performance building becomes standard practice in the US.

SIPs and Heat Transfer

SIPs and Heat Transfer | Energy Performance Building System

New Sage Homes starts with the top energy performance building system available – structural insulated panels with a polyurethane core or Sips for short. This is important to providing the best thermal barrier between the inside living area and outside elements of a building.
Other forms of insulation, such as fiber-glass, cellulose, Icynene, and blue-jean material, have half the R-value, allow air-flow, and do not eliminate any of the six mechanisms of heat transfer.

Smart Green Building Strategy

Another significant factor in reducing heat transfer and increased performance is the amount of area of the building that is exposed to the elements. Buildings should be designed to create the most floor-space with the least amount of building materials, thus the least wall area. A circular building is most efficient, with an “efficiency ratio” of floor area to lineal feet of walls of 8.9. However, a circular building is more difficult to build than one with flat surfaces. An octagonal building, which has an efficiency ratio of 8.7, is much easier to build. A square building with a ratio of 7.9 is still very efficient. The more compact the design the better the performance. That is why using our energy performance building system reflects this smart green building strategy.

Passive Solar Building Advantages

Passive Solar Building Advantages

The prime Passive solar building advantage is that the design uses sunshine to heat and light homes. Passive solar heating is the least expensive way to heat your new home and is one of the most attractive strategies available for energy-efficient construction and sustainable building.   It is usually part of the design of the building itself, using certain materials with correct placement of windows including correct placement the building itself.

Optimum Solar Gain Through Window Placement

Because much of a building’s heat is lost through its windows, the majority of windows in our buildings are located on the southeast, south and southwest walls for optimum solar gain. In the winter when heating is required, the sun is low in the sky, which allows the heat to penetrate into windows on the southerly  faces of a structure. In the summer, south-facing windows are shaded by roof overhangs, shades or awnings to keep out the hot summer sun. 

Polyurethane SIPs Panels

A successful passive solar building also needs to be very well insulated in order to make the best use of the sun’s energy. Polyurethane SIPs are unsurpassed in performance and the result is a quiet and comfortable space, free of drafts and cold spots.  Passive solar design can also achieve summer cooling and ventilating by making use of convective air currents which are created by the natural tendency of hot air to rise.   

As  renowned  architect  Frank Gehry  proclaimed, “sunlight should always be utilized  because it”s free.”

So not only is passive solar building eco-friendly  it can also substantially lower your energy costs.