As with all forms of solar power – solar thermal, PV panels, solar chimneys and others – the amount and quality of sunlight to which a home is exposed is extremely important in holistic home design. Thankfully, again in common with many other forms of solar power, even areas that might appear at first sight to be far too gloomy can, in fact, provide enough energy to reduce heating bills by 50% or more.
You are here
When you read about solar systems, especially solar thermal and passive systems, you may come across the "10-Degree Rule". The rule states that, wherever possible, a building should be constructed with the long axis facing within 10 degrees of true south (not magnetic south).
The reason for this rule is very simple: south-facing walls get the most sun (in the northern hemisphere). You want as much of a building as possible facing that way to gather as much heat and energy as possible.
The best advice is often the advice you hear every time you ask a question. In the case of solar energy, the best advice is always "fix everything you can fix before you start planning your project". If you plug all your leaks, improve your energy efficiency, and insulate your home properly, your solar energy installation can be smaller and will cost you less.
As with all passive solar design options, Trombe walls are a great addition to your home design: they retain a lot of heat, helping to reduce your nighttime heating costs throughout the cool period of the year. However, again like all other options, they need to be used correctly or they won't do you any good.
There are two main effects of indoor air pollution. The first is the effect on the home itself: everything gets dirty, especially if the pollution is particulate matter (e.g. soot), and structural problems can arise from things like mold and mildew. The second is the effect on your health if you live in the home. Let's look at what can happen.
Although thermal Trombe walls work well in all climates and for almost any home, you need to choose the correct design for your particular needs. This choice depends on your local climate. Here are some essential guidelines:
The first and most important step in making any home a healthier place to live, whether it's a passive solar design or a traditional house, is eliminating sources of air pollution. The problem with eliminating sources is that many of them are built into the fabric of the building. It's a lot easier to remove those pollutants if you're working on a new build than a retrofit.
The single most widely applicable passive solar design option is thermal or Trombe walls. The option works in every climate and every location, from the hottest and sunniest to the coldest and darkest. But like everything, Trombe walls have their disadvantages as well.
Air quality is a serious concern, especially in retrofits and buildings where air pollution is particularly bad. The answer to the question of whether you need air filters depends on a variety of positive and negative influencers. Let's start with the positives: