What Is Passive Solar House Design and Why You Should Be Using It?

Passive Solar is a term that is used when describing the use of the suns energy naturally, or unaided by electronic, mechanical or technical means. In home building design and construction it specifically relates to the building design and how the house will make use of the free energy the sun provides for heating.   

To use an example provided to us by nature, you could observe a deciduous tree that brings forth its leaves in the warmer months providing shade and protection for everything beneath the tree. The ground is cooler and is protected from the direct sunlight and from the direct heat of the sun. In winter however the opposite effect is true. A deciduous tree will shed all of its leaves and the warm winter sun will heat the earth below and allow the warmth through.

That effect, Passive Solar, is what house designers should try to incorporate into each home design. Using the different angles of the summer and winter solstice (angle of the sun during different seasons of the year) homes can obstruct the summer sun in a way that prevents it heating the home and allow the sun in winter to come directly into the home.

It’s not uncommon for a designer to use CAD software that automatically places the suns angle at different times of the year to highlight how the sun will affect the home during each season. This provides meaningful information to the potential home builders and gives a very real advantage to home owners looking to reduce their carbon impact on the planet. Through clever design using our natural elements we can sustain a comfortable living environment without the aid of energy resources such as heaters and air conditioners.

While passive solar should be incorporated into each new home design, it is just one element that must be given attention if we are to do our environment a favour. See the Your Building Broker website for more information on Passive Solar and other green home building techniques.

Steve Fitzpatrick is the Managing Director of Your Building Broker in Perth Western Australia.

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