I was looking through the newspaper yesterday in particular the New Homes section where all the group builders or project builders advertise their new home designs. I never look at the paper ordinarily but opened it to talk to a friend about what makes a difference between a passive solar designed house and a group builder’s home.
The group builder takes a floor plan and adjusts it to suit a site meeting the R-Codes and council guidelines. A good passive solar designed home discusses with the client their lifestyle, living standard, entertainment requirements and family needs. Good design promotes excellent health and well being. The latest research indicates that we need sunshine to maintain excellent health and yet if you standardize a home and place it on a piece of land anywhere chances are you will not maximize the benefit from the sun.
I showed a number of homes from the paper to my friend analyzing their failure to provide the best in design and in fact every home I looked at would have had extremely cold bedrooms in the winter months and too hot in the summer. So how should you design to maximize the benefits of the sun?
Ideally a house should be positioned where the sun strikes a line North South diagonally through the building. Kitchen, bedrooms, laundry and bathrooms should be on the eastern side of the home while living spaces should be facing the west for the winter sun. Windows should be positioned to allow winter sun into the room at its maximum but minimise it in the summer. To place a large window central to a room doesn’t work if it facing east or west.
There is a theory that you can position your home with the largest wall facing south while the opposite northern wall has 80% glass. This won’t work simply because in the winter you will never have sun on the Southern wall and while that isn’t an issue in Perth because the weather is warmer by day, at night time it is still better to have a warm room rather than an icebox.
When I first moved to Perth and slept in a south facing room, the wall was freezing and made it very uncomfortable sleeping to the point I needed a heater on in the room to keep it dryer and warmer. Good passive solar design cannot be copied, every house should be designed with the client’s needs in mind considering the aspect of the land, access to the property and using the suns energy to warm while allowing for excellence in ventilation. That way you will have a home that is passive solar designed and provides for better health and well being. Anything short of that only adds utility costs and maintenance.