October 26, 2017

Aiming for a Net Zero & Passive Home in Texas? Why You Should Choose Bautex

Passive solar design minimizes a home’s energy use by taking advantage of the local climate, the home’s site and orientation and the benefits of using materials with thermal mass. For instance, in Texas, passive design recommends long rectangle homes oriented with its long sides facing north-south. The north-south orientation minimizes direct sunlight during the summer (which reduces cooling demands) while maximizing sunlight during the winter (which reduces heating demands).  Passive solar design also promotes the use of materials with thermal mass like concrete, stone, brick, and the Bautex™ Wall System’s insulated concrete blocks.  A material with thermal mass can absorb, store and release the sun’s heat energy and help keep the indoor temperature of a building stable. The purpose of passive design it to contribute towards achieving a net zero energy house. A net zero energy home makes as much energy as it uses; saving the homeowner money and energy. Passive solar design uses building materials with thermal mass and considers the building’s site and orientation, along with the local climate.

Thermal Mass Materials in Passive Solar Design

An essential component of passive solar design is the use of materials with thermal mass. Materials with thermal mass have inherent qualities for both heating and cooling. In warm, humid climates, like Texas, thermal mass can be used to keep a home cool during the hot summers. For instance, at night a concrete home, like one built with Bautex Blocks, will absorb the cooler evening air and store it within its mass. During the day, it takes mass walls longer to heat up, they will stay cool and so will the interior of the home. In the winter, the concrete walls absorb the sun's heat energy during the day. The heat then slowly spreads through the wall (conductivity) and releases into the home during the night. Materials with a high amount of thermal mass, like concrete, naturally work to slow the rate of heat transfer and act to stabilize the temperature shifts in a home. A passive solar design must incorporate materials with thermal mass to work towards achieving a net zero energy use home.

Aim for a Net Zero Energy Home with Bautex Wall Systems

The Bautex Block Wall System’s insulated concrete blocks provide the thermal mass and continuous insulation demands of passive solar design. Without exterior and interior finishes, the continuous R-value for Bautex Blocks is R-14; far exceeding (ASHRAE 90.1) Code (2015 IECC) recommendations and building codes of Texas. A home with Bautex Block continuous insulation and brick veneer is an R-18 system.  In warmer, southern climate zones like Texas, ASHRAE 90.1 R-value requirements for continuous insulation (above grade, mass walls), are less than R-8. The use of Bautex Wall System continuous insulation, improves energy efficiency, stops thermal bridging, and saves building owners money for years to come. Bautex Blocks are the perfect material choice when aiming for a net zero energy and passive solar home in Texas.

Home Orientation and Local Climate in Passive Solar Design

Passive solar design advocates that it is more environmentally friendly and less expensive to work with nature, rather than fight against. Specifically, proper orientation of a home on its site, that takes advantage of the sun’s energy, is a cost-effective way to reduce energy use. A passive solar design also maximizes or minimizes solar gains by placement of windows.

  • The south side of a home receives sunlight throughout the day and should have the most windows. The south side should also have sizable overhangs to provide shade in the summer and sun in the winter. Another benefit of south facing windows, is they allow natural light to bathe the house throughout the day reducing the need for artificial light and lowering the overall energy use throughout the house.
  • The north side of the house is in the shade and the coldest side of the home; therefore minimize the windows and doors on the north side of a home.
  • A passive solar design also limits windows (or other transparent materials) on the west and east side of a home. The sun often strikes these surfaces half of the day and cannot be easily controlled.

Passive solar design creates an energy efficient and comfortable home. Passive solar design utilizes the sun’s energy for the cooling and heating of living areas. Most essential, passive solar design utilizes thermal mass materials like the Bautex Wall System insulated concrete blocks. Implementing passive solar design can help a house achieve a net zero energy status; which saves homeowners money and energy.  Visit Bautex Wall Systems for more information on aiming for a net zero energy and passive solar home in Texas.

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