If you've ever stepped into a century-old house in summer, chances are you noticed it wasn't swelteringly hot despite a lack of air conditioning. Credit goes to its design: A wrap-around porch or a big overhang keeps glaring sun at bay instead of streaming indoors. Maybe a huge oak or maple provides shade in a key location. Ample windows placed strategically can be opened and provide welcome breeze, thanks to cross-ventilation. White paint - or some other light shade -- reflects the sun's heat.
You can apply "passive cooling" or "passive heating" principles to your abode, too, even if it's a modern building. It'll pay dividends. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, passive solar design can cut heating bills by as much as 50 percent. Find hints from TheDailyGreen here: www.thedailygreen.com/2007/07/11/cool-home-design/3676/. Also, here: www.thedailygreen.com/2007/07/09/keeping-your-cool/3585/.
Two homes built for a Solar Energy Center study in humid, sun-baked Lake City, Fla., help demonstrate the benefits. One was built using traditional design, while the other a "minimum cooling energy building" -- applied passive cooling strategies such as well-designed overhangs, a white reflective roof, well-shaded or reflective double-glazed windows and shady landscaping, plus green features that go beyond that such as solar photovoltaic panels. Results? The green home used 70 percent less energy. Its solar photovoltaic panels offset another 22 percent, making its net energy use nearly zero. (See: http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/research/buildings/zero_energy/lakeland/index.htm).
For more info:
* Consumers' Guide to Passive Solar Home Design: www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/designing_remodeling/index.cfm/mytopic=10250
*Learn the passive solar design features of a Florida Cracker solar house: www.phys.ufl.edu/~liz/design.html
*Links to lots of helpful passive heating and cooling resources: www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Cooling/passive_cooling.htm
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