Cozy Homes and Solar Gain

If you are thinking of building your new tiny or small home in an area that gets cold weather, orienting your new home for solar gain will not only keep your home warmer during the winter months, but will reduce the cost of your heating and power bills…with really no extra effort at all.

This home in the southwest part of the U.S. has large angled windows and a sun room with natural tiles to capture more solar heat.

When you build what is called a passive solar design, the windows, walls and floors of the home are made to collect, store and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter from a southern sun. This works because during the winter in the Northern Hemisphere (it’s opposite in the Southern Hemisphere) the sun dips toward the southern part of the sky, enabling a building with south facing windows and doors to capture that heat. If the home is built correctly, during the summer, when the sun goes back up toward the northern part of the sky, it will not shine directly into those same windows — keeping the house cooler.

Inside a home built for solar retention, it’s best to have floors that will hold the heat. This means building with materials that contain mass: darker tiles, natural stone, cement and earth floors will hold more heat than carpet or linoleum. Darker walls or walls made of natural materials will also hold more heat than lighter walls.

The Cozy Cube

Any Cozy Home can be adapted for additional solar gain: a sun room, larger windows, greenhouse windows and even skylights can be added to a Cozy Home plan to add not only additional heat, but more light as well. The best Cozy Homes for solar gain are the 196 square foot Cozy Cube, which has a sloped roof and an upstairs with opportunity for French doors or larger windows, the 307 square foot El Capitan which has a large French front door, and the 320 square foot Skylight Mountain which has a large angled roof perfect for…well…skylights. If your Cozy Home plan has a porch roof, the roof can be built to contain open panels or glass that can bring more solar light and heat into a glass front door.


Photo by theentiremikey/Flickr

2 Responses to Cozy Homes and Solar Gain

  • You need a good thermal mass on the floor or walls to absorb the heat also.

  • Absolutely! We like the idea of slab foundations for the Cozy Homes. Yes there more expensive up front but the advantages over the long-term in my opinion more than make up for it such as their thermal mass. We also do 6” walls on all our homes. I can’t believe how much just heating and cooling 250 sq. ft. cost now. Don’t miss the days when I paid for almost 3000 sq. ft. at all.

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