With today's technology, when a home is being designed, computer models can show exactly how a home would need to be positioned and designed for maximum solar gain and seasonal thermal performance.
When building a home, its not just the structure itself that should be positioned correctly. The floor plan is also important to consider. For example, rooms that are inhabited most such as the living room and kitchen should be designed so that they benefit from the sun in the winter and shade in the summer. This would also be good for patios and decks. Areas like garages or rooms less used, that don't need to benefit from the suns heat, can be planned out in a similar way.
What about the positioning of trees? If placed correctly, they can give much needed shade in the summer. You do not want them to prevent much needed sunlight in the winter though, so thought must be taken in deciding which type of tree is best and whether it will loose its leaves in the winter.
We have so far only considered a couple of things to know when it comes to optimizing natural energy. In our next article we will consider a few more factors.