The need to conserve the environment and the fluctuating energy prices have led some individuals to consider building new homes that rely solely on solar energy. This article discusses some factors that you should discuss with your preferred home designer/builder in order to achieve that objective.
The designer should think carefully about the orientation of your roof so that the roof can generate adequate solar energy for the home. Two approaches can be taken to achieve this. First, the designer can consider orienting the roof for maximum solar energy harvesting during winter. This approach bases on the thinking that your energy needs will be adequately met throughout the year if the roof can be oriented to harvest maximum solar energy during winter. The second approach is to ensure that the largest surface area of the roof is orientated towards the direction that has maximum sun exposure during the day in the warm months of the year. For instance, some areas receive maximum sun exposure on roofs that face the south. The pitch of that roof should also favour the installation of solar panels.
The building envelope can also play a major role in decreasing or increasing the energy consumed in a home. This is because heating or cooling the home consumes a significant proportion of all the energy used in a home. The designer can therefore select state-of-the-art products and techniques that make the building envelope as insulated as possible. This approach will ensure that your total energy needs for heating or cooling will be low enough to be met by the panels installed on the roof.
Attention also needs to be directed to the equipment and appliances that are going to be installed once the new home is completed. Research should be directed towards sourcing equipment and appliances that require very little energy to operate, such as energy-efficient stoves. Such equipment will reduce the need to install high-capacity solar panels in order to address the needs of the energy-guzzlers inside the home. You will also be spared the expense and inconvenience of retrofitting energy-efficient equipment once the new homebuilder has handed over your home to you.
A comprehensive discussion of the three issues above will help you to achieve your dream of having a home that relies on solar energy alone. However, it may also be prudent to ask the new homebuilder to connect your home to the grid just in case your energy requirements change and the solar panels cannot cope with those changes. That connection to the grid can also be used to sell any excess solar energy that is generated on your roof.