A new home that you designed yourself (or rather, with the help of a design firm) should be as close to perfect as possible. A feature that people often forget to look into is passive solar, also called passive design. This is a design where the house is constructed to preserve cool air inside in summer and warm air inside in winter. The "passive" refers to the fact that you and the house don't have to do anything to put this strategy into effect. It sounds more technical than it is because the features you add are very straightforward.

Work Shade Into the Design

One of the biggest parts of passive solar is simply preventing hot sunlight from heating up windows and walls. Including awnings all around your home, such as you'd find in designs for a Federation-style house (especially Queen Anne and Filigree styles), go a very long way toward preventing rooms from getting too warm. The shaded verandahs around the house give hot air a chance to be blown away by breezes before the air reaches your windows and walls. If the design ends up with some windows exposed to sunlight, such as on a top floor of a two-storey home, add awnings over the windows.

Don't Forget the Landscaping

The landscaping also helps tremendously. Plant native, fast-growing shade trees along the sides of the house that receive the hottest sunlight, such as the west side in the afternoon. Use groundcovers instead of concrete for empty areas in the yard where you're not planning to have any fancy plantings, too.

Choose Materials Carefully

Double-glazed windows are a necessity if you want passive solar. Look into opaque skylights that block hot, direct light but that allow rooms to have a glow that lets you see without turning on electric lights. The roof material, too, can make a difference; curved tiles such as you'd find on Spanish-style homes can be fantastic. These are those reddish tiles you see where the curve points up; there's space under them with air that becomes hot during hot weather. But instead of trapping the hot air under the top tiles, the breezes that blow through those openings under the curved tiles push the hot air out and remove it from the top of your home.

Speak with the designers you're interested in and look for one that employs passive solar techniques in its work. You'll end up with lower bills and lower energy consumption.

Reach out to a design builder to learn more.