Before considering PV panels, integrate passive strategies into the core of your home’s design to reap savings in heating and cooling costs
When Asheville, N.C., builder Brian Knight built his first passive-solar house, he could tell that something was different: Even unfinished, the house was bright, comfortable in cold weather, and drier than the typical home. The experience made him want to get more involved with passive-solar design, but he needed two things: a few building lots with southern exposures, and a simple, 3BR, 2B plan that he could easily adapt to different sites and clients. The first he could buy; the second he had to devise. The result was his “Springtime Cottage,” a traditional-looking house specifically designed to take advantage of the sun. By altering the plan only slightly, he has built three Springtime Cottages on various sites in Asheville, each time tweaking the design slightly to adapt to the site and his client’s wishes. In this article, Knight lays out the passive-solar features he focused on in designing the cottage (envelope air-sealing and insulation, window selection, thermal mass, and overhangs) and explains the adaptations he made over the course of three builds.
Photo courtesy of the author