Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset

This post is part of The Little House That Could series, designed for upper primary school and lower intermediate school children. The academic curriculum that accompanies these posts was developed by the ECO School with partial funding from Wanganui District Council and administrative support from the Sustainable Whanganui Trust.

It was August, 2011, and the little blue house on Arawa Place in Wanganui had almost been renovated.

Before and After

And then it happened...

... the coldest week in recorded New Zealand history. Times were tense.

And the plumber had not come to install the wood burner. What to do? We could just turn on the electric heaters, but that would cost a lot of money. Luckily, we had a plan. We renovated our home to be heated by the sun in winter. This is how it works.

The sun rises and sets in different places at different times of year. In the winter, it rises in the northeast and sets in the northwest. During our renovation, we added windows on the northeast and northwest and removed windows on the southeast and southwest.

The winter morning sun comes into our lounge and our kitchen at a low angle.

The midday sun comes in our French doors on a low angle.

And the afternoon sun, well look at all that we do with it!

In the winter, the sun appears low in the sky, so the sunlight reaches deep into a home.

We put the lounge, kitchen, bathroom and dining room on the north side of the house because those are the places we like to be when we are awake. The bedrooms are on the south side. We use hot water bottles in bed.

Even though that was a cold week, with snow in Auckland and Wellington and even Wanganui, it was also a very sunny week. Cold and sunny are perfect conditions for Passive Solar Design. That is the name for what we've done. And how did it work?

Celsius - Top is indoors & bottom is outdoors - Farenheit

These are the indoor and outdoor temperatures when we closed our thermal curtains at 5:30 pm. Good one, eh?

Peace, Estwing


  1. THis is wonderful. So simple, straightforward, and with tanglible, visible results! Those temps are amazing.

  2. Well done congratulations on using what mother nature provides for free.