Thanks to Kristen who lives in a hot, humid climate for sharing that it is possible to live comfortably in a (mostly) passively cooled house with adequate thermal mass (concrete slab, no basement), correctly sized overhangs, and a clerestory for increasing air flow.

“We love our house. It functions exactly the way we wanted it too. The different zones of space really work: public, adult and kid zones. The away room and the children’s play room give both the adults and the kids a place to “entertain” guests, while maintaining private space with the bedrooms. Because the floor plan is so open, people get the impression that our house is huge, even though it is not. The “horse barn” style and the red exterior get high approval ratings with our rural neighbors. The passive solar features of the house work perfectly. We use the wood stove in the coldest months just to gain a few degrees, mainly because we are wimps. We like to keep the house at about 72. We have not had to use the back-up heat that we built into the AC system. In the spring and fall we make good use of the whole house fans and the clerestory and other windows to cool the house. In the mornings we can cool the house to about 67 in the mornings. It remains low most of the day. We repeat the process again in the evenings if the temperature has crept up a bit. In summer we are very grateful for the SIPs and the well-planned overhangs that shade our southfacing windows. Again we use the AC to cool the house in the warmest months – only needing to cool the house by a few degrees. We try really hard not to be smug when everyone else we know is grumbling about their high energy bills! Thanks for helping us create such an efficient house that suits our needs perfectly.”

Notes by Sun Plans:

– For homes with a basement (integral high mass), opening the basement up to the first floor can also greatly increase the passive cooling potential of the home.

– The straight roof lines along with the 1/2 second floor are ideal for SIP roofs (structural insulated panels). We do NOT recommend SIP roofs for one story homes as it is possible to better insulate with a truss-framed roof system combined with insulation blown or sprayed on the ceiling or roof deck.
See a photo of the Panel Play.