On the sunny side of the street

When you are wishing for a day when you might dance and sing, it’s the sunny side that helps you get into that mood. As bright as can be, close enough for warmth, yet at a safe distance to benefit instead of scald, our sun is a super star to us. It warms us through our layers of winter clothing. It melts all the snow on the south side of anything that sticks out of the ground. It heats homes and people and for that we are grateful. And what a number it does on the plant kingdom, making healthy greens and fruits and nuts for us to abide. In the summer, shade from the sun can be priceless. Our world is only possible because of the sun (and a trillion other things of lesser scope).

Give them a home with views, but maybe more importantly give them a home with solar gain. My fondest memory of a warm home is when I first moved into a passive solar design about 1990. I had learned about the power of the sun well before then, but never lived it daily until that home became my home. Yes, it has big views; sunset and also due south with many windows and glass light doors facing the southern sky. It is heated by propane firing a boiler for hot water baseboard heat.  I learned to set the temp about 60 and guess what? It still easily warmed to 70 during the day; true even if it was 25 degrees outside. Arriving home from a long day of work, the home was quite pleasant to enter with the free heat of the sun.

Now I live in a home with almost no solar gain. Not only that, it is not very well insulated as indoor temperature fluctuations mimic the outdoors more so that any other home I have lived in. Do I want to move? Yes and no. I love the fact that we can see the horizon in every direction from Sandia Peak and Mount Taylor south and west to the 4 peaks towering over Santa Fe to the east and north. The views make the sky a constant wonder and sunsets are not just a small splash off in the distance. The colors of clouds and hills paints the air around that time of day. Then its back to the cold house after dark.

Maybe I should be investing in solar panels. Can anyone tell me if there are still tax incentives to do so? But a mechanical system is not really what I have in mind. I am kind of old-fashioned and prefer the passive absorption of heat from solar exposure. If I ever decide to build a cabin on my little piece of land in the hills halfway to Taos, it will be bermed into the earth on the north side and have lots of glass on the south, well insulated and compact. A small wood burning stove will suffice for those stormy and cloudy days. Built on a slope, the roof will be additional living space on grade from the north wall of the home; an elevated deck area looking out across the valley with glimpses of some of the highest peaks in the state.

The sun is known to do great damage to people and objects it blesses daily. Your skin may be showing signs to too much sun over the years. We aren’t going to stay inside all the time. Wear a hat, clothing and use sunscreen. And for all of your worldly belongings, they will quickly show signs of heavy exposure to the sun. I have a kilim that I kind of forgot about that was spread on the floor where the winter sun came through daily. The side that was up is completely different in color than the side that was down. And that wood furniture, heck any kind of furniture, will show wear and tear just sitting inside a sunny window for several years. How can you fault the love of napping in the sun in a recliner or on a couch in the middle of winter? Damn the damage! It’s a pleasure that should not be missed.

Thanks for your sunny disposition! It means the world to us.

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