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How to Remodel a Passive Solar Home

Debra Rucker Coleman


Tags: passive solar, home remodeling, Debra Rucker Coleman, design, construction, Mother Earth News,

To learn more about passive solar homes, read "Passive Solar Design: Creating Sun-Inspired Homes," an interview with Debra Rucker Coleman, conducted by Megan E. Phelps. In the interview, Debra discusses the many benefits of working with the sun, and what to consider when building a home using passive solar design. —MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Prior to remodeling for passive solar design features, addressing the overall energy efficiency of the structure is important. You wouldn't want to add any type of additional heat, whether it is through passive solar, electrical photovoltaic energy or fossil fuels, unless you first sealed up the paths where this added energy could then leak back out. Having an energy professional run a blower door test on the existing home would be a good first step. You can locate professionals and home energy auditors through Residential Home Services Network

or Energy Star. They can help identify any problems with your existing home that may need to be corrected as a first step or at least addressed during the renovation.

Specific recommendations for each home vary greatly and are best handled by a local architect, preferably with passive solar experience, or one who has at least been educated on the subject through one of many passive solar books (such as The Sun-Inspired House by Sun Plans, books by Dan Chiras, etc.).

Overall design issues that would need to be addressed are:

 The specific design elements would then be similar to new construction. 

Then, there are more passive solar-specific concerns: