We get a lot of sun in Texas. We avoid it outdoors, and stay in our air cooled indoors, but the sun can still play a key role in making us too hot.
This page touches on several perspectives to help us understand how the sun can overheat our spaces and make us uncomfortable. Beyond energy efficiency and energy savings- we can come up against configureations of exposure to sun and the orientation of our rooms and homes, that can make us uncomfortable. The most effective way to deal with these issues is to deal with the solar gain directly. We have two choices. We can replace windows or we can explore window treatments. You will decide which makes sense for you, but right now we are exploring- gathering some perspective on the sun and getting a sense of its role in our discomfort.
Lets explore these.
We have two key perspectives to wrestle with here.
Your home has a unique orientation to the sun. Architects and home designers love to talk about proper orientation of homes to the lot and path of the sun, and proper design of the house overhangs to provide shadows on windows when the sun is high but admit the winter sun for warmth. This makes perfect sense.
However, most home orientation in Texas is called plat orientation. You end up with the orientation based on the outline of lots and streets. Then with the home plan from the builder’s’ standard design package, you get the solar ride offered.
You cannot alter the orientation of your existing home with any reasonable effort. Reasonable efforts are confined to dealing with the windows.
You might want to get a feeling for the path of the sun across North Texas during the year. It is a critical factor for home design and for selecting any particular home to buy. Our page on tracking the Texas sun is here.
Second, you need to be aware that there is an incredible amount of BS passed around about how much energy windows and window treatments can save you on energy. Do not let anyone bend and fold data to tell you how much your home can save on electricity.
Your home has a unique orientation to the sun, a unique design and all energy calculations must be pertinent to your home. Any real numbers generated must be done around your house. Otherwise someone is trying to sell you magic. The sensible among us have to help those life partners who have a bias towards BS because they will find the dubious data to support the myths. We help parse the BS here. LINK
We go into energy audits and the energy auditing process separately. Real data can be generated and conclusions drawn on real data. LINK
But you are still hot and uncomfortable aren’t you. Too much sun.
Beyond abstract energy savings through windows and how much energy you can save- we come down to comfort factors. You put a high priority on being comfortable, and so beyond numbers, we need a solution and it needs to look good and feel good. Just do be careful and know when you are being offered BS. Don’t reward it. There is so much of it because it works.
Maybe you haven’t even realized the role the sun plays in your discomfort.
Maybe the sun sneaks up on you in the spring. Maybe the sun reaches farther around the house- in the east and in the west that we might be picking up more sun energy than we want. June 21 is the spring solstice- and the months leading up to June and the months just after might be making you uncomfortable during the morning hours and in the evening hours.
You might be keeping gloomy curtains closed, or running air conditioners, and thinking it is just a hot day, when what you need is a solution to a specific sun problem. Remember, we look at the path of the sun across North Texas here.[stextbox id=”info” caption=”Do not confuse hot and uncomfortable or cold and uncomfortable as only a solar issue… ” bwidth=”2″] You need to sort out your sources of heat, and there is a tendency for some contractors to see the whole world through their own tool box. We address that issue here. Structural issues and mechanical issues play a key role also. Check here for more perspective. The solution to your problem requires focusing in on the fundamental causes. [/stextbox]
A key factor in this discomfort is a space or room in your house where you are when this unwanted solar energy comes in. Your feelings are not ameliorated by the fact that this same sun energy coming in in the heating season will be a pleasant warmth for you.
And then we need some perspective on the space being overheated. This is often a nook although some house designs offer you a south facing high wall with huge windows and no overhangs for shad ever. These can impact the entire house,
But most often, the sun gets too close in a nook, in a home office or a work space where- at a certain time of day, during a particular time of the year, you are too hot.[stextbox id=”info” caption=”Windows can make you feel hot or they can make you feel cold. They can be radiating bodies. We need to understand radiating bodies…” bwidth=”2″]Cold and hot bodies radiate heat. Whether your body is radiating more heat than you are picking up from surrounding radiating bodies- determines whether you are getting a sense of being chilly or too hot. Hot windows in the west are radiating us and making us hot when the room temperature might be completely pleasant. We take a look at the principles of radiating bodies and how they impact our our comfort here…[/stextbox]
The core issue is that the house design and your personal habits and inclinations. have put you in the proximity of direct sun in a space that is yours, that is private and you are trying to work, or rest and you are not comfortable. You want an effective solution to manage the sun energy more appropriately.