My boyfriend and I are purchasing a home. We recently looked at a home with what was termed a “passive solar” heating system. The home was designed as an “envelope home” in which the south side of the home was a glass enclosed two story atrium. This atrium is supposed to trap heat during the day, which heats the home, thus reducing the heating costs.
The home is otherwise heated by electricity and the bills appear to be low considering it is heated using eletricity.
I am wondering if these “envelope” homes are energy efficient and how they work.
In what part of the country is this home located? What is the construction material? These homes work best in the Southwest, or where there is a lot of sunshine. Also, is the wall in the atrium some thick material that will make a good “heat sink” — that is, it will absorb heat during the day, and release it at night. Adobe is excellent for this. Brick or possibly concrete would work OK, too. A standard framed wall does not do this. The atrium floor should also be a material that will absorb heat by day and release it at night. I’ve lived in a couple of passive solar homes and they are delightful, as well as cost / energy efficient. Good luck.