First time poster here! Hello!
May be a fairly "noob" question, but I am new - and my copy of Mike Oehler's book & DVDs haven't arrived yet. While I am hopeful many of my questions will be answered by completing his works, this one matter has been bothering me and I just need to figure it out ASAP!
Forgive me if this has been covered before, which I am sure it certainly has - But I can not seem to locate a "search" forum function. Am I overlooking it?
I live in the south, and I am much more worried about staying cool during the summer than I am warm during winter as it does not snow here. I have nearly 100 acres to build upon, but I have one special place I am hoping will work.. The land is all fairly level, with a good many ponds, and a stream going towards a very large lake located a ways off my property. I am wanting an earth sheltered home, with possibly cob thrown in somewhere for the sheer creativity aspect of it.
But my seemingly very simply question is this: in just which direction would one want their Oehler inspired home facing if built in the south???
Attached is an overview of the portion of my land I plan to build on. The pink circle area is the highest elevation around, but no slopes. It is a good area of level land, and then a fairly gentle lowering of all land around it. The blue lines are the beautiful stream, and the ponds are clear to see..
I would obviously prefer to have most viewing windows facing either the stream or the nearest pond..
Keeping all of that in mind - where can I face my home to take advantage of a great view, while still keeping cool in summer?
Given that you want cooling more than heating, and that the views are generally to the south and west, I would think concentrating your windows on the south and a bit less on the west, with big overhangs like 2-3' on the south and 4-6' on the west, would give you the best results.
One thing that may be an issue is sightlines. The whole area around your knoll appears to be wooded, and you are probably not going to see much of the ponds or the creek without cutting a lot of trees. The more trees you cut, the less cooling you get from them. If you are going to cut trees, I think the best approach would be to leave as many as possible close to the house for shade, with lower branches trimmed for views, and take out what other trees you need to for good views.
Everything I'm saying below is for the Northern Hemisphere. N and S are opposite in the Southern hemisphere.
The beauty of exactly south-facing windows is that the sun goes almost overhead in the summer, so it doesn't shine into south-facing windows at all in summer, especially if you have a few inches of overhand above the windows. The same windows get the most sun in winter when the sun travel lower in the southern sky.
East, North and West windows get sun in summer, but much less in winter. So they tend to cause overheating in summer and heat loss in winter.
West windows tend to cause uncomfortable overheating, because the rooms are already warm from the day and then they get blasted by afternoon low sun shining deep into the room.
In summer the sun rises in the NE and sets in the NW, travelng for several hours and shining deep into E and W facing windows. For the same reason, the sun shines a little on the north wall in the morning and afternoon, but only in summer. In the winter, the sun rises in the SE , travels low in the S sky (well, lower than summer), and sets in the SW, so in winter, a N window gets no sun at all, and the E and W get less sun than they do in summer.
So in a hot climate your best bet to staying naturally cool is exactly south facing windows with an overhang above them of several inches, and some E facing windows. Avoid W facing windows, or plant trees outside them. The N side is a great place for a veranda to enjoy the cool shade in summer.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Good detailed explication of my concise advice plus expansion. As there are already trees to the west of (and all around) the proposed building site, it would just be a matter of selectively leaving the right trees for instant afternoon shading.
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