Choos­ing where to place your new home on your prop­erty is a big deci­sion that impacts your fam­ily, the earth and your finances.

For years the trend has been to site homes for view or “curb appeal” and to ignore the fact that where the home is sit­u­ated affects the amount of energy it uses.

This newly built home is sited to pas­sively max­i­mize win­ter sun to the south. A sun study has been con­ducted to install the cor­rect width of over­hang for sum­mer shade. The poplar trees to the south pro­vide sum­mer shad­ing, the fir trees on the north side pro­vide shel­ter from the wind. The out­door rooms on the east and west give sun/shade options.

How­ever, with cur­rent energy aware­ness and deplet­ing oil resources, there are com­pelling rea­sons to be respon­si­ble about the energy use of your home.

Your answers to the fol­low­ing 5 ques­tions pro­vide use­ful infor­ma­tion on where to site your new home.The ideal loca­tion will increase your enjoy­ment of your home, help to shade the house dur­ing hot sum­mer months,  opti­mize max­i­mum win­ter sun, take advan­tage of free and clean solar energy and reduce mois­ture and wind chill.

1) How does the sun move across the sky in this loca­tion? In the north­ern hemi­sphere, where we are located, we want to max­i­mize the sun in win­ter, spring and fall . We want to min­i­mize the sun rays that come into the home dur­ing the hot sum­mer months. This can be achieved by con­duct­ing a sun study to cal­cu­late the width of the roof over­hangs for sum­mer shade/winter sun.

2) Where do the shad­ows fall? Notice where there is shade cre­ated by land forms (ie: moun­tains), neigh­bor­ing build­ings and trees. Place the exist­ing or nat­ural shade to the north or west of your home. Plant shade trees to block the direct line of the set­ting sun in the west. Plant groups of decid­u­ous trees to the south of your prop­erty, their leaves will pro­vide the relief of dap­pled shade dur­ing the hot months. In the win­ter, the leaves will fall away, leav­ing a wel­come open­ing for the warmth of win­ter sun.

3) Where does the water drain on this prop­erty?  Be aware of waters ten­dency to flow down­hill. Install all drainage, ditches and swales to guide water away from your foundation.

4) Which way is the pre­vail­ing wind? Wind can chill your home and raise heat­ing costs. Notice wind pat­terns and site the house to ori­ent away from the wind. Reduce the num­ber of win­dows on the windy side and plant ever­green trees to pro­vide pro­tec­tion for the home.

5) Where can we place an out­door liv­ing space? Build out­door rooms that are con­nected to your home so that there are com­fort­able in-between options for human cool­ing and warm­ing activ­i­ties. Out­door rooms can be defined by plant group­ings , screens, fur­ni­ture and path­ways as well as con­structed structures.

Ques­tions? Com­ments? Expe­ri­ences? We love hear­ing from you!