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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?

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        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!
http://www.sunplans.com/html/houseDisplay.php3?house=Midnight_Sun&page=photos

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.

http://www.sunplans.com/html/houseDisplay.php3?house=Panel_Play&page=photos

     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.
http://www.sunplans.com/html/houseDisplay.php3?house=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.
 
http://www.natresnet.org/

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?
http://www.sunplans.com/html/house_plan_book.php3

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!
http://www.sunplans.com/html/house_plans.php3

     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: barry14@sunplans.com
www.sunplans.com
251-341-0509
Sun-Inspired Design: the gold lining of green building