Friday, November 14, 2008

Living Better in Sonoma County--the Inland Valleys

Just as microclimates affect the success of certain types of grapes that can be grown in particular areas, they also affect decisions about home maintenance and improvement. Living better where you are--inland, in the Redwoods, or at the coast--can be achieved by tailoring your actions to your specific area. This article focuses on the inland valleys.

The southern exposure of your home can be a source of uncomfortable heat in the summer and welcome warmth in the winter. Orientation of a new home or addition to take advantage of passive solar shading and heating is too often overlooked. A south-facing room with large windows needs several elements to make it work well.

When the sun is high in summertime, wide roof overhangs and shades will keep the house cooler. During the winter, when the sun is lower, the sun's rays can help heat the home, especially if they shine on a floor with thermal mass, such as tile over concrete. This material absorbs solar heat and retains it over time. Taking advantage of this natural approach to heating and cooling will make your home more comfortable and energy-efficient. A super-insulated (R-25 walls, R-50 ceiling) house that is oriented for passive solar can cut energy costs by up to 50%!

This is one example of how a Green Building approach can be utilized, whether it is new construction or remodeling. I can suggest others specific to your situation.

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