The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling

The Solar House: Passive Heating and CoolingAuthor(s): Dan Chiras
Paperback: 286 pages
Publisher: Chelsea Green (October 1, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1931498121
ISBN-13: 978-1931498128

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Passive solar heating and passive cooling—approaches known as natural conditioning—provide comfort throughout the year by reducing, or eliminating, the need for fossil fuel. Yet while heat from sunlight and ventilation from breezes is free for the taking, few modern architects or builders really understand the principles involved. Now Dan Chiras, author of the popular book “The Natural House,” brings those principles up to date for a new generation of solar enthusiasts. The techniques required to heat and cool a building passively have been used for thousands of years. Early societies such as the Native American Anasazis and the ancient Greeks perfected designs that effectively exploited these natural processes. The Greeks considered anyone who didn’t use passive solar to heat a home to be a barbarian! In the United States, passive solar architecture experienced a major resurgence of interest in the 1970s in response to crippling oil embargoes. With grand enthusiasm but with scant knowledge (and sometimes little common sense), architects and builders created a wide variety of solar homes. Some worked pretty well, but looked more like laboratories than houses. Others performed poorly, overheating in the summer because of excessive or misplaced windows and skylights, and growing chilly in the colder months because of insufficient thermal mass and insulation and poor siting. In “The Solar House,” Dan Chiras sets the record straight on the vast potential for passive heating and cooling. Acknowledging the good intentions of misguided solar designers in the past, he highlights certain egregious—and entirely avoidable—errors. More importantly, Chiras explains in methodical detail how today’s home builders can succeed with solar designs. Now that energy efficiency measures including higher levels of insulation and multi-layered glazing have become standard, it is easier than ever before to create a comfortable and affordable passive solar house that will provide year-round comfort in any climate. Moreover, since modern building materials and airtight construction methods sometimes result in air-quality and even toxicity problems, Chiras explains state-of-the-art ventilation and filtering techniques that complement the ancient solar strategies of thermal mass and daylighting. Chiras also explains the new diagnostic aids available in printed worksheet or software formats, allowing readers to generate their own design schemes.

The Natural House

Author(s): Dan Chiras

ISBN: 0890132578

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Gracious, comfortable and ecologically-benign homes are being built all across America. You may be intrigued by solar techniques and natural materials, yet lack an overview introducing the basic choices now available, along with the pros and cons of various building options. The Natural House addresses that interest with style and substance.

This exciting new book, written by a veteran author who himself lives in a straw-bale and rammed-tire home, takes the reader on a tour of fourteen natural building methods, including straw bale, rammed earth, cordwood, adobe, earthbags, papercrete, Earthships and more. You’ll learn how these homes are built, how much they cost, and the pros and cons of each. A resource guide at the end of every chapter offers a wealth of information.

This comprehensive sourcebook offers in-depth information that will guide your search for the perfect sustainable dream home. It’s a must for builders, contractors, architects and do-it-yourselfers.

With a writing style that is clear, understandable, at times humorous, and fun to read, the author shows how we can gain energy independence and dramatically reduce our environmental impact through passive heating and cooling techniques, solar electricity, wind power and micro-hydropower. Chiras also explains safe, economical ways of acquiring clean drinking water and treating wastewater, and discusses affordable green building products.

While Chiras is a strong advocate of natural building, he takes care not to romanticize natural building techniques. He alerts readers to avoidable pitfalls, offering detailed practical advice that could save you tens of thousands of dollars, whether you’re buying a natural home, building one yourself or renovating an existing structure or considering hiring a contractor to build for you.

468 pages, 2000