Designing Your New, Solar-Ready Home
Is a solar-ready home in your future?
If you’re building a new home, using efficient construction methods and materials will help to reduce your future energy demands. And that, in turn, will help reduce your electricity needs.
In fact, by using the right design and construction strategies, you can satisfy all of your new home’s energy needs with solar power.
Rooftop Orientation and Design Tips for Your Solar-Ready Home
The term “passive solar design” refers to energy-efficient strategies that leverage the characteristics of your home and homesite to capture the sun’s energy. When planning your new home, rooftop orientation is one of the most effective passive design techniques.
The direction your roof faces directly affects the performance of photovoltaic panels. For maximum solar energy output, a south-facing roof is the best option, especially in the Intermountain West region of the U.S.
Flat roofs are ideal for solar power, as the photovoltaic panels can be mounted at the optimal angle for energy production. If you’d rather not have a flat roof, a professional contractor can help you determine an acceptable roof slope that will still allow your solar modules to harness enough sunlight.
When choosing the placement of your home on your lot, consider the potential for future development of any properties to the south. A multistory building, for example, could block your access to the sun. Likewise, small trees will eventually grow into large shading problems for your photovoltaic panels.
Passive Solar Materials Increase Solar-Ready Home Efficiency
The materials you use in the construction of your new home can provide an energy-efficiency boost and reduce future heating and cooling needs.
Concrete, brick, stone and tile are thermal mass materials, capable of absorbing and storing solar heat from the sunlight that hits your home.
Experts recommend using these passive solar masonry materials at the south end of the home, along with any overhang. By doing so, heat from the sun will be absorbed during the winter months, lessening the burden on your heating system.
In the summer months, the thermal mass materials will absorb solar heat from the warm air in your house. The overhang will shade the building and keep it cooler, so you won’t have to rely on your air conditioner as much.
Window Placement Tips for a Solar-Ready Home
Carefully planning window placement can also help maximize the energy efficiency of your new home.
Incorporate as many windows as possible on the south side of the home, and make sure they are not shaded by trees or vegetation during the heating season. Incorporate awnings or overhangs for south-facing windows, along with reflective coatings or insulated glazing, to prevent excessive solar heat gain from the summer sun.
For the east, west and north sides of the house, minimize window openings. Add just enough for natural lighting, but no more, or you will decrease your home’s energy efficiency.
If you’re planning a new home in Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming or Nevada, be sure to obtain the input of a professional photovoltaic contractor. Intermountain Wind & Solar designs and installs alternative energy systems for residential and commercial customers throughout the Intermountain West. Contact us today to learn more about adding a photovoltaic system to your new solar-ready home.