Summer and winter, it makes solar sense Essay

A solar-logical design helps this house respond to the heat and cold
of California’s Central Valley. For cooling, it uses shading devices, natural air movement, and the mass of its concrete slab. In the
colder months, the house is heated by direct solar gain, a solar-powered
radiant slab heating system, and a heat-circulating fireplace.

Visually, the most dramatic elements of the design are the
52-foot-long lap pool (one of it sside walls uses an extra-deep house
foundation) and a translucent second roof. The corrugated fiberglass
shades the actual, flat roof of the house and creates a spacious outdoor
room with long, open windows. (In winter, the openings can be sealed
with fiberglass panels to create a tempering sheltered area.)

A 200-square-foot solar panel angles outward to shade the living
room windows in summer and face the lower winter sun. On summer nights,
it radiates heat outdoors that it collected from the water circulating
in the slab in the living spaces. The opposite happens in the winter:
water circulates in the panel during the day, stores in a 300-gallon
tank (which also preheats domestic hot water), and circulates in pipes
to heat the slab.

Architect Richard Berteaux, of the Department of Environmental
Design at UC Davis, designed the house for his family.


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