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South-Facing Windows in a Solar Home

South-facing windows in a solar home is Rule #1. Unless you’re from the southern hemisphere, south facing windows are vital to the passive solar element of home design. The obvious reason is simply that the sun spends the vast majority of its time in the southern sky, at its lowest in winter when that solar heat is needed most.

Maximizing Your Heat Source

Well-placed south-facing windows can cut winter heating bills by a significant percentage. For the solar home, this added heat source will ease the load on a solar electric system, allowing a smaller (and thus cheaper) system to be installed or allowing more electricity to be sold back to the power grid, thus offsetting costs incurred at night or other times of low output.

For homeowners in arid climates, such as the deserts of American southwest, it may be best to have few south facing windows. In these situations cooling is the main reason for energy consumption so south-facing windows would be a tax on a solar electric system rather than a benefit. Choose smaller, properly glazed or shaded south facing windows.

Plan Your Design

Still, for most North Americans, south facing windows are vital to proper solar design. That is the generality. Yet every home site is at least subtly different. It is important to communicate with an experienced architect and contractor to properly position the house, windows and solar power system.

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