Position Your House for Solar Efficiency

Patricia Skinner  |  5/8/2007 7:56:28 PM

The sun in South Louisiana can be an intense source of heat. Many of the vernacular buildings in the area have evolved in order to protect the home from the relentless sun. While many houses overcome their site and solar considerations by relying on air conditioning and modern conveniences, siting your house carefully can reduce the need for these systems and cut energy costs in the process.

Knowing how the sun moves over your particular site will enable you to design more energy-efficient and livable spaces.

  • The southern sun is the most extreme, so the southern side of your building will need shading.

  • Northern light is indirect and can be a good source of constant light. For this reason, many homes have generous porches or awnings on the south side of the building.

  • Keep in mind that the setting sun can often be a low and hot source of light, so you may want to place certain rooms in your home with an awareness of this. For example if you typically spend your early evenings in the living room you might want to situate the room on the east side of the house so that you don’t have to be exposed to the glare and heat of the late afternoon sun every day.

If you are looking for more information on passive design strategies that use the sun’s natural energy to heat the home in the winter, you can refer to Louisiana Speaks: Pattern Book by Urban Design Associates, or Sun, Wind, and Light by G.Z. Brown and Mark Dekay. These publications also describe ways to minimize heat in the warmer season through porches, shutters, overhangs, and window placement.

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