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Throwing Some Shade - Strategies for Striking a Healthy Balance of Sun and Shade

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Most homes do not sit on top of a barren hill without any surrounding landscape features. In reality, most sites are surrounded by buildings, mountains, trees, or other features that create shade. Where your home is positioned on the site and how it is oriented will impact how much sun reaches the house at different times throughout the year.

If you are trying to maximize solar gain in winter, you will want minimal shade on the south side so as much sunlight as possible can enter the space. This means avoiding situating the home where buildings or evergreen trees will block the light on the south side of the home. If you do want to take advantage of shade in summer, try to position the home so that mature, deciduous trees are on the south side to block the intense summer sun. When it comes time for their leaves to fall in the cooler months, they will not block sunlight when needed.

You can also build strategically sized roof overhangs to minimize solar heat gain in summer as the angle of the sun is much higher during these hotter months. A designer can determine the ideal length of your overhangs — or trellises — to block out just enough unwanted summer sun. Additionally, if too many windows are placed on the western face of the home, overheating in summer months will most certainly occur, even in New England, since the sun will be too low at that point to be blocked by a reasonably sized overhang.

If you plan to install rooftop solar panels, you also want to be sure that a sufficient roof area is not shaded so it can receive adequate sunlight all year long.