So I took a few photos inside and outside of our house to record the changing temperatures, then made the shots into a short video to illustrate one of the cool advantages of having a bioclimatic house which I though might be interesting to share.
It's 14h and I'm outside, then under a lean-to, I enter the workshop, walk past the cellar (with the door open) then go into the main kitchen then out of the west door to a covered south-facing terrace, then outside under the shade of some trees then point the thermo on the ground in full sun.
I've already posted a lot in the forum about the house but for those who don't know me or our place at Sourrou I'll just explain that for the first part of the build, I tried to follow all the classic guidelines for building an effective passive solar house. With a few small changes, it's working really well both summer and winter.
Here are some of the main elements :
The east/west axis of the house means that the sun orientation is used to the fullest for positioning solarwater heating panels, photovoltaic panels and for benefiting from winter light and heat in the house.
Stones on some of the interior walls add thermal mass to be sun-warmed or heated by the wood stove. When we were building, it was interesting to see the light effect of the orientation of the house. We marked the walls with a trace at both solstices and the autumn and spring to determine the size of the overhang on the terrace roof which we built later.
Straw bales under the slab with "tiles" made by hand from clay from the pond in front of the house, cement and sand make a good thick heatsink for winter and stay cool in summer.
Calculating the size of the overhang to maximise solar effectiveness
Big French windows on the south and sw side of the house to allow light to enter and small windows in the north to conserve heat.
Trees and climbing plants on the south facing terrace lose their leaves in winter and let the sun shine all the way into the house.
The small lean-to greenhouse acts as a cushion to the outside and helps heat the house in winter. In summer it's cooled by shady climbing plants and evaporating water.
The walls, floor and roof are super insulated and the outside on the south and west sides are surrounded by terraces and protected from the prevailing winds by several layers of hedges and trees.
The front door on the north wall is surrounded by plants and we leave the door open in the evenings when it's hot to get a nice cool breeze through the house.
When it is blazing hot outside, it's cool inside the house
The sun comes all the way in in the winter, warms the walls, the floor and the wooden furniture and the light is lovely. These photos were taken around the winter solstice.
I've probably missed out a lot of details but if you want to know more, just ask.
Wow 111F 44C that's a scorcher for certain. Thanks for sharing the build information as well. It hit 98F 36.6C here in the mountains of northern New Mexico at 7200feet 2195 meters during that global heat wave.
I wish I had done half of the brilliant design plans y'all did there when I built this place. Electric bill was double high because of the window air conditioner we never thought we would need up here in the mountains. Sigh.
Beautiful place BTW
This is great and thank you for sharing! I live in Portugal where is is also very hot and I have a house I need to renovate. There are a lot of things I can't do cause the house is already there but I want to do as much passive solar as possible and I love seeing examples of how others did it. Your place looks lovely and it is obvious that your design was well made.
Sorry to take so long to come back to this subject but I attended the annual Permaculture encounter in France and the preparation for conferences and visits here afterwards take a whole month or so out of my diary.
Sebastian, I think I've labelled them OK - the text is at the top of each photo. Oh, and we started building the house before Brad Lancaster's book was published - I've never heard of the book and now I want a copy !
Alicia, here are some links to posts in the forum.
I've kept a record of the design considerations and the complete build from the start. In my website (Signature at the bottom of the page), click on "albums" then scroll down to "shelter" and there's a selection of photo albums with comments on our building activities.
Denise, we have a lot of great, free insulation material such as sheep and goat wool, straw and left-over rolls of insulation given to us by friends and neighbours, so we used a lot wherever we could.
In the (As yet unfinished) extension to the house, we used 37cms of straw, 20cms of hollow core brick, then about 25cms of either stone or light clay-straw insulation.
I've recently added some work that I did for my Permaculture diploma to our new (So far unfinished) website and one of the design PDFs is called :
The first phase of the house at Sourrou : Applying the ethics of permaculture to building a comfortable home.
I've put the link here because I thought it might be an interesting addition to this thread and it shouldanswer a lot of the questions people have been asking me about the build and the features we included in the house to make it more sustainable.
A lot of people were interested in how much it cost. We built the house for under 15,000 euros - that's 17000 American dollars. There's a breakdown of the budget in the PDF.