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Positioning our retirement home in western NC.

We are looking to build in the Ashville NC area 21-2200 ft above sea level. Mild winters. The view of this lot is to the south. Does it make sense to have your great room window view wall facing south in the southern states? We will be looking into the winter sun 3-4 months a year. We can build the roof overhangs longer from the house to assist. Looking for opinions, articles or publications that address this. Gets confusing googling everything. Also nat gas is available could go geothermal but very expensive what is the next best way to go. Heat pump combined with gas heat? Thanks greatly.

Re: Positioning our retirement home in western NC.

This would be a good question for a local architect. you'll need one for your plans. He'll be able to incorporate all or most of your wants and needs, and work with what you got.

He would also know all local codes, restrictions, and regulations.

Re: Positioning our retirement home in western NC.

A south facing window is the easiest to control the sun with overhangs. In the summer the sun is higher and a modest overhang will keep out most of the sun. In the winter the sun angle is lower and sun can be allowed to come in if you want.
For me the south facing window will usually take advantage of summer breezes since I prefer to keep the windows open when possible.
Be sure the windows have a high shading coefficient to keep out the summer solar gain.
On the flip side, east & west facing windows will have the sun coming directly in for a few hours each day. That can be controlled by blinds. Trees, especially evergreens can have an effect on a low angle sun.
North facing windows will only get direct sun early & late in the day.
If there is a view to a lake, mountain, etc. I would heavily factor that in.
A local architect would be a good resource.

Re: Positioning our retirement home in western NC.

If the view to the south is worth it, then yes.

BTW, I have been to Ashville so in my opinion the answer will be a YES.

Re: Positioning our retirement home in western NC.

Living just an hour south of there, I say a resounding"YES" with capital letters, as you'll want the heat gain from passive solar during the colder months and you can easily deal with the summer 'overheat' which is only going to happen a couple months out of the year up there. You might also be interested in looking into a publication that's out of Flat Rock called "Backhome" magazine which deals with sustainable living with most of the writers local to the area. They have a lot of articles on this kind of thing though it's generally from the homeowners point of view versus the engineering point of view. A great southern mountain view is not something to be walled off here, but is something to be treasured and enjoyed!

Our winters do tend to have cloudiness, so having as much view of the sun as you can get will make life more cheerful too. "Mild" is quantitative, but compared to anything north of here we do have "mild" winters in comparison. Get as good as you can with your insulation, especially these windows, but do not use 'low E' glazing on them or you'll lose the passive solar possibilities in the winter. Opening the windows is adequate for cooling for all but about a month or two during the worst of summer in the mountains so long as you also block the sun with overhangs, shades, or thermal curtains. Humidity can run high compared to some places, and that can matter on hotter days. IMHO (which is biased because I live here by choice) this is the ideal climate to live in unless you're a snowbird.

The hottest days can get quite hot, though they are low in number in the mountains of Asheville. Once again that is subjective based on what 'hot' means to you. Historically natural gas has been the best way to go for heat here, but with the world being the way it is even that may change somewhat. Geothermal is pretty new here but apparently an option so long as you don't hit rock if you use a drilled well type system (and you will hit a lot of rock there, these mountains are mostly granite!) One advantage gas has (and something to consider) is that even when the power goes out gas logs work, and you will have some occasional winter power outages from snow and ice, especially away from the metro centers. Worst case is rarely more than a couple days and the usual is 1-3 hours for each event, maybe twice a year and usually shorter and usually less frequent. Another thing here is that some areas have a 'micro-climate' where the norms are different. One friend in a valley near Brevard sees temps which are always about 8 degrees lower than the surrounding area, while in the "Thermal Belt" around Columbus it's usually 3-5 degrees warmer in the winter but the same amount cooler in the summer (hence the name "Thermal Belt"). Talk with the friendly locals to determine what happens at the specific location you're considering about this if it matters to you. Site your house with consideration of the numerous trees we have to gain from the summer shade they offer. I'd recommend culling out the closest pines as there tend to shed branches or break in ice storms, which you'll see some of every few years or so. Combined with the southern windows this will give you all the benefit nature has to offer here and that is a lot. You'll love it here- IMHO there's no better place to live than in these Appalachian foothills.


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