Build to Harness the Sun’s Energy

The sun is our most powerful source of free, renewable energy, but too often we don’t optimize its potential as it relates to our homes.

We crank up the air conditioning, pull down window shades, hang dark drapes and install new windows in all the wrong places.

Maybe we could be smarter about designing and managing our homes on a daily basis to harness this free source of clean energy. A little planning ahead will generate decades of dividends and reduce not only your long-term carbon footprint, but the carbon footprints of generations to come. With a little early morning management of drapes and shades, you can either block out or let in the sun’s useful rays.

This is Green Blizzard’s first foray into building design and solar management. 

It’s a complex topic, worthy of many more articles. You can find plenty of online resources that offer advice on how to smartly build and renovate, but given that this is yet another important way to reduce your carbon footprint, Green Blizzard decided to step into the arena. Check back often as we will be adding more insights, suggestions and resources regarding this important topic. The goal of harnessing solar power is to take advantage of passive solar light without using machines or any external power. This is done by simply capturing sufficient light through skylights and other windows to provide enough light to conduct normal tasks in specific rooms so that electric lights do not have to be used.

Harnessing Passive Light – People have been designing homes to maiximize passive light for centuries, and it’s an effortless and free-flowing process once the design is in place. If you are building a new house or undertaking renovations on your existing home, examine the position of your house so that you can  take full advantage of the sun in your area. 

The long axis of the house should be parallel to the east/west axis, and your glass windows should face south in order to optimize the winter light and heat, and to minimize the warmth from the summer’s stronger rays. Another design tip:  the southern exposure needs to be within 30 degrees of due south without any large obstructions in the way. Discuss these basics with your architect, who will have plenty of other useful insights and suggestions.

Here are a few other Green Blizzard articles that you might enjoy reading: Worthwhile to Grow Your Own Basil?, Organic Foods – Truly Eco-Friendly?, Rotary Push MowersPlant a Few TreesGoing Green Never Tasted so GoodGreen App:  The Dirty Dozen and Green Cleaning Products

John GarnettBe sure to also read these otheGreen Blizzard articles: EcoFriendly Wardrobe,Living Green In My Apartment, and Saving Energy At Work.


About the author

John R. Garnet

John's work in the energy market fostered his interest in the environment. He recently completed his graduate work at George Mason University, But more interestingly, John has a passion for food and cooking and to provides some light-hearted tips to make people's lives greener while enjoy the good life with everyday practical tips from brewing tea, growing basil, or drinking raw milk.