What is passive solar design?

In this video SuperHomer Kit Knowles talks about the passive solar design used when renovating his 1909 Arts and Crafts property in Chorltonville.

The focus of the design was on passive technologies which are lower maintenance. Downstairs a beautiful kitchen/diner space opening to the lounge has been created. Dubbed ‘The Solarium’, this space uses passive design to capture solar energy, store it and distribute it across space (from the south to the north of the building) and across time (from midday to midnight). Kit often refers to this as the engine room of the house, so capable is it of generating energy.

The design stores some of the sun’s warmth for release in the evening. In the solarium a pitched glazed roof rises high above head height. Exposed brickwork there absorbs the heat during the day and releases it in the evening like a hot water bottle as the surrounding air temperature drops. The floor, which is matt black slate absorbs heat from the sun very effectively during the day.

A partition wall has been removed to create a larger downstairs lounge/diner/kitchen area. The advantage of this larger open plan space is that it allows the sun’s warmth to move around the downstairs during the day. It also allows for sociable cooking and relaxation.

Another comfort feature is the pitch of the glazed roof which has been deliberately raised so it collects warm air high above head height. This reduces potential discomfort on hot sunny days since excessive heat is normally experienced at head height.

MVHR has also been used installed. This compliments the natural distribution of warmth by using pipes and ducts to collect air from the warmer area downstairs and to redistribute it to cooler areas of the house. The result is a more consistent temperature throughout the house which increases comfort.

This Arts and Crafts house in Chorltonville, Manchester, is one of the homes in the SuperHomes network of older homes that have been renovated by their owners to reduce carbon emissions by at least 60%. Most SuperHomes host public open days in spring or September. For more, visit Kit’s house.

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