Would you recommend passive solar design for North Texas?

Asked by tungtruong
Grand Prairie, TX


Randy Potter

Answered by Randy Potter

Alameda, CA

January 6, 2011

Passive solar design is simply a strategy that aims to provide maximum thermal comfort while utilizing the minimal amount of delivered energy.

  • Passive solar design can have benefits in any climate;
  • you just need to focus on what you are trying to achieve given the climatic demands.

Strategies for your subtropical climate

I am assuming the climate in North Texas is subtropical with hot summers and not a huge heating demand in the winter.

In a moderate climate like this, building orientation, shading, ventilation, building envelope integrity and insulation are far more important than thermal mass.

  • Think about blocking the sun with overhangs and shade trees and orienting the house so that it gets minimal solar penetration in the summer.
  • Then build a highly efficient and well-insulated envelope using OVE framing techniques and superinsulation like expanding foam. Ventilate using an ERV (energy recovery ventilator) for ventilation and humidity control.


For more information:

Read Greg Upwall's Q&A "We want to design a passive-solar home for a hot climate. Can we still have views to the east?"

Also, a great resource for passive solar design is the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy website. It has a whole section on passive solar design.

Tagged In: passive solar, summer energy

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