Life in a passive solar home

This post is for those who are curious what it is like to live in a direct gain passive solar home. That included me until a few months ago!

IMGP4278For example, today the sun is out, but we had a high of 46 degrees outside. Inside we are toasty warm in the low 70s with no forms of heat needed.

To build a direct gain solar home you must first properly position it with almost all your windows and sliding doors facing directly south. And the windows and doors must be made of the proper kind of glass.

In addition, your roof needs just the right amount of overhang on the south side to keep the sun overhead and not shining into the house until around September 1st.

IMGP3052You must also start out with the right kind of insulated slab to hold the heat in the floor, instead of it leaking out into the ground. This is essential!

IMGP3515The walls must be well insulated, and then we chose dark gray tile throughout the house to absorb the heat as it enters the house from our south-facing doors and windows. Right now the sun is shining about 10 feet into our home!

You also need ceiling fans if you want to keep the heat down off the ceiling in winter.

At the time of building this house, I understood why we made these specific choices, but only now do I see the great advantages to living in a home that holds its temperature so well.

Yes, our home does cool down at night, but very slowly. The low temperature outside last night was around 20 degrees. With no inside heat on, the outdoors got down to 64 degrees. Then as the sun starts coming in to the house the morning, our home warms up very quickly.

Sometimes before I leave the house I think, “Should I turn down the thermostat?” But we have none…old ways die hard.

IMGP4364Fortunately we were able to find the perfect passive solar perch for our new home, one that faces south and also offers us a 180 degree view of the Spanish Peaks and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

Now that I understand all of this, I am mystified why everyone doesn’t use the free solar heat of winter! Of course I never would have understood all of this without Mike’s expertise and education.

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7 thoughts on “Life in a passive solar home

  1. Thank you so much for explaining how well solar is working for you. I honestly had no clue the slab had to be insulated properly. As I get ready to install another heat pump with electric bills hitting $300 per mo last winter for warming less than 1500 sq ft., I do wonder if I have the courage to build a solar home.

    Living in a community with strict HOA rules, that allows for only black mail boxes, for example, makes me even more envious of your beautiful, open space for retirement.


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