Budget Alpine home uses the sun as no-bill climate-control

Emanuele Almagioni wanted to build a home in a cold and windy, but very sunny, town high in the that would use the sun to provide all of its heating needs. With winter low temperatures reaching -25°C (-13°F) the home had to be tight enough to hold the heat but exposed enough to capture the sun.

So he built a very tall, thin, 3-story wooden home with an all-glass southern facade for maximum sun exposure and nearly completely closed on the other three sides for maximum insulation.

Besides the benefits of the greenhouse effect of all the glass, he also added phase change material (PCM) in some of the windows to absorb the sun’s warmth during the day and then release it at night. The PCM windows are four layers that include a substance with a low melting temperature which melts as it absorbs heat during the day and at night it releases that warmth as it solidifies.

The home is nearly all wood, using prefab OSB for structural support and as interior cladding and locally sourced, untreated larch as cladding. Heating is supplied by the sun’s energy and on the rare days when the sun isn’t shining, there’s a wood-burning stove that also doubles as a stove (though the space is so well-insulated that with 2 hours of burning, the home is usually warm for the day). Almagioni used recycled materials for much of the furniture, in particular, wine boxes for kitchen and bathroom cabinets and bedside tables.

Located in an Aosta Valley Italy village (winter population: 5) at 1750 meters above sea level (5740 square feet), the home mimics the solar orientation of the centuries-old homes in the village. Almagioni was inspired by the vernacular architecture here, particularly the ubiquitous porticos which absorb sunlight and protect the wind.

Studio Albori: http://www.albori.it/

On *faircompanies: https://faircompanies.com/videos/budget-skinny-home-uses-the-sun-for-no-bill-climate-control/

23 Comments

  1. Kirsten- wow. Just wow. This home and owner are brilliant. I could easily follow along and read the subtitles. There was enough time to still see the rooms. Thank you for making the world a better place with your gift. ✌🏻❤️

  2. It has some great elements for passive solar, I wonder if they could have used some thermal mass like the older stone buildings inside that insulated envelope, so the low winter sun could heat it up, if there would be even less need for the stove? Currently the heat is mostly stored in the air alone, versus getting some mass that can store heat in winter and absorb heat in summer.

    • The phase change material serves the same purpose as mass and takes up less space… Additional could help but there’s just a balance needed as he mentioned it’s about how much energy they can get from the sun as well.

      Mass does help to store heat and release it later but the more mass you have then the longer it takes to heat up and the more likely it may not get warm enough to counter how it can conduct heat and get cold.

      So okay if you got a good heat source that can charge it up but not so much when that’s not the case and then you have to rely more on insulation, which is what they did… Maybe if they threw in a wood stove but just the sun not so much…

  3. Fantastic work on this video! Congratulations to all of you, including the owner who accomplished building a sustainable project with truly “smart” features working for them. Great seeing your work each time I return, Kirsten and family!

  4. Karen’s in the village be like 👁👄👁

    I understand they want to keep up the traditional housing but come on, its made of wood and eco friendly. We can’t live in the world with endless coal burning to heat and cook in our homes.

  5. Also a home review channel, according to the general assessment: sitting at home is beautiful and gorgeous, the price is worth it for living at home like this 😍👍 It’s a dream. If you want a modern green house that is rustic and close to nature, come with ”Green features in this architecture”.

  6. Its amazing how we are captivated in old persecution. Visibility versus functionality. Not only when building our homes, but our lives in general.

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