Passive Solar House Plans

Will Passive Solar House Designs Work for
Your Home?

Passive solar house plans are know for being durable, which means they'll typically last for years. These simple designs also deliver energy savings and a lower maintenance home.


passive solar house plans

The nice thing about passive solar house plans is that they can include many of the aspects of comfort and aesthetic beauty we desire in a home.

It's possible to design a house to work with the climate instead of against it, and in turn, make our homes more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Five elements are key to building a completely passive solar house: the type and size collector, storage elements, control of temperatures, distribution of solar heat, and thermal mass.

Each of these factors is important singly, but in order to create a home that uses strictly passive energy, all five must be included in the house plans and work together efficiently.

Passive Solar Elements

  1. Collector (Aperture) - this refers to the expanse of windows in the home that will collect the sunlight entering the home.

  2. Storage Elements - what surfaces will you use in the house to collect and distribute thermal energy into the house. Examples would include the materials used for flooring, walls, and built-in room dividers.

  3. Control of Temperatures - based on climate, the size of roof overhangs, the placement of vents and dampers, and the addition of awnings and blinds will all be considered.

  4. Distribution of Solar Heat - passive solar home plans will effectively use design elements to take full advantage of conduction, radiation, and convection throughout the house.

  5. Thermal Mass - Certain building materials will retain and store the sun's heat more efficiently than others. The thermal mass 'capacity" of the building materials used will be considered in relation to the most energy efficient means for heating the home.

What To Consider

One of the most important considerations is the climate. Climate will determine the style of the home, orientation on the site, your selection of heating and cooling options, possible backup systems, and many other energy conservations options.

Although the sun shines pretty much everywhere in the world at some point, how available is the sun in your geographic location? The availability of the sun will determine the size and placement of the windows, how high and wide they'll be, and the glazing necessary for the best energy savings and comfort. The overhang size will also be based on this factor for passive heating and cooling purposes.

The square footage of the home vs. the cost to build it is always a determining factor when it comes to home design and passive solar house plans are no different.

You'll need to consider not only the cost of the building materials based on square footage, but also the cost of the solar appliances and other solar features you'd like to include in the home. You may find that building smaller will enable you to have a much more energy efficient home.

How will the house be oriented on the building site? Does the lot lend itself in landscape and size to orient the house in a way that captures and utilizes the most solar energy possible? If not, you may have to consider a different location or a new house design plan.

Lastly, will the projected energy savings be worth your investment? Most often the answer to this question is a resounding "yes!" but it's still an important consideration before moving forward with your passive solar house plans.

Passive solar house design plans are easily found online and in books all about passive house design. It’s best to work with an experienced builder once you think you have an idea of what you want in your design.

Talk to homeowners who are living in a home with passive design and ask them what they like about it. They're likely to tell you that they enjoy comfortable temperatures inside their home, whether it's winter or summer.

They'll probably also mention that they would do it all over again for not only the comfort of the home, but the savings they enjoy each month too. If possible, visit a home that is utilizing passive solar energy and get ideas from the owners - they may be able to give you ideas for your own home!


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