House is located in Atlanta, GA, in the Collier Heights area, just off I-75.
The passive solar definitely works, plus you don't have all the fiddly maintenance issues you do with solar cells, solar water heaters, etc. Conventional gas furnace/electric AC, gas water heater, electric oven and gas cooktop. Our utility bills were basically nonexistent, in the spring and fall we might pay $50/month total, and in the dead of a real cold winter or a broiling August we sometimes broke $100 and were really annoyed. :-D
The main things that make the passive solar work are:
Oriented slightly east of south. House is a trapezoid with the longest side oriented SSE.
No windows on north side, with closets, etc. against north wall. Outside doors have vestibules to keep cold or heat out (we called them the "cat locks" as they also kept the cats from escaping). Only one window on the west and one on the east. South wall is essentially glass.
The overhang is calculated for the latitude, so that the south windows are in shade after the spring equinox until the fall equinox. Summer sun stays out, winter sun comes in.
Super-insulated, framed up with 2x8s with conventional fiberglass batts and additional foam insulating board on the outside. Roof is 2x12s. All voids filled with foam. Triple pane windows. Huge attic vent fan so that you can exchange out stale air on temperate days. Big bath and kitchen fans so that moisture doesn't get trapped in the house.
Dug into the ground so that earth does some of the insulating job (well designed drainage and best available waterproofing is a must any time your house is in the ground).
Unfortunately I haven't got any pictures on line. We sold the house back in the early 90s.
>>Our utility bills were basically nonexistent, in the spring and fall we might pay $50/month total, and in the dead of a real cold winter or a broiling August we sometimes broke $100 and were really annoyed.<<
Those two sentences contradict each other. I consider $100 a month for a small place, even in the dead of winter, to be a lot. My condo is over 1000 sq ft and the bill is around $60 in the dead of winter.
Thank you, AM! How were the summer AC costs in Atlanta? Even if it stays a lot cooler than most houses, it’s so humid and oppressive in the south (used to spend part of my summers in Columbia SC and Sullivans Island.)