There's a new house in Arcola. Remember that vacant lot I wrote about last winter? Well, it's not vacant anymore.
It almost makes me wonder if somebody got worried that I would find some rare plant in there with the native grasses, and so they rushed to develop it. Seriously, folks, I'm not that concerned about rare plants (even though I do accept pay to go look for them sometimes).
I'm much more concerned about greenhouse gas emissions, and here we have a problem. They put this house in backwards! Those big windows are facing north. Not only that, but the two biggest windows are being expanded into even larger window bays.
Now, I'm happy to see an old house salvaged for a few more decades of use. This house was moved in from South Arcola, saving a lot of energy and material that would have been needed to build a new one. But just because it's old doesn't mean you have to live with high energy use. All they had to do was to face those windows south into the yard (which is a better view anyway, with grass and trees instead of a street), and they could have had some good solar gain to cut their winter heating costs.
Maybe they were worried about appearances, having the "front" door facing the back yard. I'd say nobody uses the front door anyway, so why worry about it? If the house were turned around, that side door would be right up close to the front. I think the house would have looked welcoming enough with a little deck at that side, steps down to the front yard, and some foundation plantings to soften the north wall.
But maybe they actually thought about the sun on those windows, and worried that the house would get too hot in summer. Maybe they heard the rumour about another house in Arcola, with a big sunroom, and how hot it gets.
If that house is turning people off passive solar heating, it's a sad thing. At this latitude, it's really very simple to have sun streaming in your windows in winter, and still keep the house shady and cool in summer. The solution is built right into the structure of the house, in the form of a long overhang. Here's how it works:
I've seen this work at my parents' house, with windows nearly floor to ceiling. In summer there is just a little strip of sunlight on the floor by the windows, and in winter, the rays fall all the way to the back wall of the room.
But so many houses get built backwards, just to have the picture window facing the front yard. My own house is backwards, and I keep plotting to turn its insides back to front. I have a plan. Now if I could just convince myself that it is a better plan than moving to a farm, I'd get on with it.
2 weeks ago