Richard and Betty Slaughter say their new passive solar home high on a mountain slope here was carefully planned.
When the couple decided to leave Dallas a year or so ago and settle permanently in this resort area, they knew it was time to think about the years ahead, especially when it came to energy consumption. The Slaughters and their children had enjoyed the area during family vacations for 15 years and had grown to love and appreciate its friendly informality. Now they wanted to put down roots, become part of the scenery, and contribute to the community.
They wanted their dream house in the Rockies to be ample enough to welcome their three children, spouses, and grandchildren, as well as a regular flow of friends.
Snowmass, an incorporated town-ship, is 9,000 feet up in the Rockies and has a permanent population of about 1,200. Its population swells to 8,000 to 10,000 during holiday periods.
The Slaughters decided early that "passive solar" was the only route to go for the long haul ahead, and they hired architect David Finholm of nearby Aspen to plan their house.
"passive solar" means that no commercial roof-top heat collector is used. The house itself acts as a solar collector and is designed to admit the sun's heat.
Finholm's plan incorporated these passive elements:
All large glass expanses face south and east and use double thermal pane glass. All skylights, which also admit sun heat during the day, are equipped with insulated sky-lids that automatically open and close to keep out low night temperatures.
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The glass walls, which allow in sun heat by day, are insulated by night with roll-up shades consisting of five layers of Mylar.
These shades inflate when warm air strikes them. The shades are produced by the Therma-Tech Co. of Snowmass and in this house are covered with gold fabric on the outside and cotton print on the inside.
Essential to this passive solar plan is the 12-inch thick brick wall that is the spine, or core, of the house. Rooms adjoin this central heater wall, which stores excess heat from the sun.
Five cylinder-shaped water towers are behind a glass wall in the dining area. These tanks also store heat during the day when the sun hits them and release it at night. Three other massive pipes in the stairwell take heat from the ceiling and return it to the storage wall.
Heat-absorbing dark tile floors, two inches thick, are used in the large living-dining room and kitchen. The floors absorb heat from the sun and release it slowly over a period of hours.
Such unconcealed solar components could be unattractive.
In this case, Marguerite Green, the Slaughter's interior designer from Dallas, worked with the architect on all the aesthetics of the house. She incorporated the dominant solar elements into the overall interior design and the general color scheme of purple, rust, beige, and green. CAPTION: Picture 1, Cylinders at right store heat during the day when sun hits them. Christian Science Monitor; Picture 2, Richard and Betty Slaughter's solar-heated house in Snowmass, Colo. Christian Science Monitor