Passive solar heating design elements.

Harness Sunlight to Your Advantage (Without Solar Panels)

The design and position of my first home didn’t allow for a lot of natural sunlight downstairs. In addition to winters being dark, they were also colder than they would have been had we had more sunshine. Taking advantage of maximum sunlight exposure to warm your home is called passive solar heating. It’s an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to keep your home warm and bright throughout the winter months.

Those looking for a lot and a custom home in Myrtle Beach are often seeking something outside of the cookie-cutter subdivisions that house the majority of our area’s residents. Homes in these neighborhoods have many amenities, but buyers typically must choose between a variety of pre-established floorplans. Additionally, subdivisions divide lots and position homes in ways to best accommodate utilities and provide uniformity of appearance. Choosing your home’s position on the lot is usually not an option.

If you are working with a custom-build team like Odom Design, you’ll work to explore the pros and cons of different home positions as well as how position can enhance views, lighting, and comfort.

Passive Solar Heating without Panels or Fossil Fuels

In Myrtle Beach, passive solar heating works best with windows facing south. With our flat, coastal geography and plenty of sunshine, the Grand Strand is a perfect place if you want to bring as much light and warmth into your house as possible. With the sun moving east to west, southern-facing glass can absorb light throughout the day. Depending on your lot, you may need to alter the position or remove some tree limbs or bushes if there is too much shade.

The glass in your windows acts like an aperture in a camera, filtering light into the inside of your home. Sunlight’s photons are energy (heat) moving in waves. These photons are absorbed by the materials in your home–walls, carpeting, furniture, etc. Some materials and colors absorb retain heat better than others in the same way that a black t-shirt will feel hotter in the sun than a white one. Ceramic tiles, stone, and brick absorb the light’s energy and maintain it, keeping spaces warm.

Can I Save Money with Passive Solar Heating?

You bet! Though Myrtle Beach doesn’t have as long as cold season as other places, studies have shown that you can save between $200-500 a year. Even if the savings aren’t especially persuasive, you can spend more time with blinds and curtains open on cold winter days and avoid cold spots in your living areas.

At this point, you are probably thinking about the other side of the coin–home cooling. Using the same principles, you can use home design, layout and position for home cooling. This process is called passive cooling, and it will be the focus of an upcoming blog post as well. Stay tuned!