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May your Winter Solstice, Christmas, and New Years be filled with warmth and peace. Share, rejoice, rest, and let in the sun!

Let the heat of the sun warm your home.

Let the light of the sun brighten your home.

Watch your cat or dog find the cozy places in your home.

Curl up with a loved one regardless of their shape, size, or amount of fur.

Remember Sun Plans?


        Our sun-inspired homeowners often share photos, comments, construction experiences, and thoughts about their sun-inspired home after they start building. It is so fun to hear about and see a house that is often far away. We hope you enjoy a few of the recent comments we’ve received. Thanks everyone!

If you’ve put off building due to the economy and are considering further revisions or downsizing, let us know how we can further assist you. Previous clients often come back for further revisions after they meet with their builder and/or engineer if the changes are more than they are comfortable integrating in the field.

Jane describes her family’s Midnight Sun:
“We haven’t moved in yet, but I have camped out a few nights and the house has such a nice happy feel to it. My builder was so impressed with how well planned everything in the house was. He also initially thought that we had had this house designed exclusively for ourselves rather than customizing a plan because this house plan really fits the site… the garden level (daylight basement level) look(s) from bedroom into family room with view of Jotul woodstove. The backup heat for house consists of two Jotul woodstoves as well as radiant electric cove heaters (Comfort Cove system).”
(They took out the wall between the porch and living area in order to take advantage of the gorgeous views to the mountains!)

Brian, our builder client in Western North Carolina (first two photos with night lights) has offered to give tours so long as the house is FOR SALE! (See the “description” drop down box on the Midnight Sun house plan page for details.)
See more about the compact jewel – the Midnight Sun!

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.

     Thanks to Paula from Ohio for the photos & comments on their Atrium (45 degree home) reversed with the screened porch on the southeast, and Hydronic radiant floor heating.

“You’ve asked about the comfort level of the house. I didn’t feel I could answer knowledgeably until after I lived in my glass house through the winter. Well, it was 12 degrees last night. (Dec 2008)

The comfort of the house is astonishing. With the large amount of thermal mass and the radiant heat, any temperature change is so gradual that it is subsequently unnoticeable. In our former home, you were warm when the furnace was running and cold after it shut off. In our new home we’re always warm and never even aware of which parts of the heating system are running…

The best part is, instead of always wanting to curling up under a blanket you walk around barefoot.

We also enjoy living in a house “warmed and brightened by the sun.” The benefits include sitting in the sun enjoying a good book, seeing a beautiful sunrise as you’re getting ready for work, cooking with fresh herbs gathered from the sunroom and saving money by heating with the sun. And while the sun doesn’t shine everyday in Ohio, there is a good deal to be said for being able to see outdoors even when you don’t want to be outdoors. Even on a grey winter day, the house is an open, comfortable space with plenty of natural light.

While we moved in on July 25th, the house was not completed until August 16th… Once we moved in, we could open up the house at night – three of the atrium windows are operational and have electric motors installed – and then close the house back up before the heat of the day or before leaving for work. So far this… home has not only been more comfortable to live in, it has also been less expensive to operate than our previous home of 1,700 sq. feet.”
See more photos and drawings about the Atrium.

Did someone say another party? Yes, please, a third one. Although their recommendation is in our specs, they are often overlooked. If you’ve not yet built, or if you need some testing and tuning, a Home Energy Rater can work along with you and your builder to assure that your home gets the attention it needs – after all, you and your builder may be so busy selecting the hundreds of finishes and details that go into your home that it could be easy to overlook the proper installation of caulking, insulation, and heating/cooling system. (Yes, even passive solar homes need some extra help from mechanical systems.) Those three items (along with correct selection of south glass) will be the primary elements that determine the amount of energy that your house uses.

If you want an Energy Star Home, you will have to have a Home Energy Rater.

Spend some time finding a Home Energy Rater near you.

While admittedly The Sun-Inspired House works better on the kitchen table than the coffee table, it has been known to grace (well, not quite) any table that might also be covered with our Study Plans and Construction Review Sets as you discuss construction costs with your builder during the planning stage.

The content of The Sun-Inspired House evolved from the frequently asked questions that have been asked of us about passive solar, passive cooling, energy-efficiency, and green building by homeowners, builders, engineers, and architects over the last 20 years.

When we asked Karen about how she liked her completed sun-inspired home, she told us:

“I’m very satisfied. The Sun Plans book was a great tool for additional information as needed and would recommend anyone ordering plans get a copy of this as well.”
Want more reviews and info about our book?

So that we may spend most of the holidays at home with our families, the Sun Plans physical office will be closed until Monday 5 January 2009. The virtual office, however, will remain open! We plan to check email periodically. If you want to speak with us on the phone, please call after the holidays.

(“Working in the Clouds” is a phrase we recently heard while attending a Google web based seminar. Since over 90% of our custom design work is done with homeowners that we never meet face-to-face, it seems to adequately describe our email, computer based services that allow the client to respond to our designs at their convenience.)

Visit the Sun Plans website anytime day or night!

     Thank YOU for your support of Sun Plans during the years and sending your valuable comments about our services and your completed sun-inspired home!

Enjoy the holidays, sunrises, and sunsets with your family and friends!

Sun Plans Inc.
Debra Coleman, Architect, AIA
Author of
The Sun-Inspired House: house designs warmed and brightened by the sun
Customer Service:
Sun-Inspired Design: the gold lining of green building

Dear Friends, Customers, and Clients of Sun Plans,

Fall is in the air – finally! Our work load has slowed down a bit to the steady, slow pace of our gopher tortoises.

Now is the time to begin gathering your information and ideas for your home and filling out the Custom Design or Custom Changes questionnaires to start the custom process. As we’ve stated before, our customers and clients who have the most enjoyable time building start construction about 2 to 6 months after receiving the plans – whether using a custom design or one of our pre-designed house plans.

We are again accepting new work although this is filling up rapidly. We anticipate limiting our Spring 2009 work to those who have sent their initial design information to us no later than Dec 2008. If you anticipate being in our schedule between now and then, please send us an email.

Curious about our web site? Click here.

As the sun rises due east and sets due west, the shade line over south facing windows at noon is slowly rising to allow the sun to begin to gradually warm the home.

Night time temperatures have dropped below 65 degrees nation wide making it the perfect time for passive cooling. Open your windows at night to cool down the house, then close them in the morning to hold in the cool air. With a well-insulated home and at least some thermal mass, the home should remain relatively cool the rest of the day even if the afternoon temperatures soar.

Ben Franklin

The Ben Franklin exemplifies simplicity and practicality while eliciting the warmth and charm of cottages. The compact footprint has everything a couple needs on a daily basis while the kids and guests can privately rule the upstairs. The north-facing front of the home with its simple, but elegant, front porch (large enough for rocking chairs) beckons to take a peek inside. 1.5 STORY, 2099 S.F. FP1&FP2

See more about the Ben Franklin

Lakeside Sunrise

A northwest facing lot with a gorgeous view to the southeast inspired the Lakeside Sunrise which evolved from our Fairy Tale design. The main entry was moved to another side to create a large, welcoming foyer. The center of the home features a two story atrium and large hearth. The southwest sunroom-like corner brightens the living areas year-round and allows sunset viewing. The craftsman-style exterior overhangs minimize summer overheating. The wrap around porch on the northeast corner is the place to be to watch the lakeside sunrises. 1.5 STORY, 2274 S.F. FP1&FP2

Click here to see more about the Lakeside Sunrise

Heartland 2

The Heartland 2 is an east-facing home that can blend with a neighborhood, the woods, or the prairie. The comfortable front porch welcomes guests whether approaching from the southeast or northeast. (Large lots may allow the garage doors to be placed on the north.) The craftsman styling is in the gable roof ends with knee braces and in the shingle siding accents adorning features such as the numerous window boxes. The front French doors allow light into the foyer which leads through a small gallery-like hall to the center of the home where a daylight cooling chimney brightens up the interior. 1 STORY W/FULL BASEMENT, 1945 S.F. FIRST FLOOR

See more about the Heartland 2

Timber Touch

The Timber Touch with its possible 6 bedrooms can hold a growing family and/or many guests who like to stay a while. The downstairs rooms are spacious enough to accommodate large crowds yet maintain a cozy scale for only a couple. The south-facing Timber Touch has three entries which work well with a variety of drive approaches. The side kitchen entry is practical for unloading groceries. The back entry at the split level is perfect for storing coats and boots as well as skis, riding gear, work clothes and pets. It could also become the main entry with a drive from the north. However, the main south entry, with its high mass surfaces of stone or brick around the masonry hearth, echoes the warm timber cottage style of the exterior. You might lose track of time in this house. 2 STORY, 2521 S.F. FP1&FP2

Click here for more on the Timber Touch

July 2018
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