Passive Solar

Cindy Carpien/NPR

Chilly winters and sunny skies make Flagstaff an ideal place for passive solar construction. A house with the right orientation and south-facing windows can collect free energy from the sun—no solar panels required. But one thing stands in the way of Flagstaff becoming a model for passive solar home design: the beauty of a mountain.

Since time before memory people have used sunlight to make southwestern homes more livable. Many of the region’s characteristic cliff dwellings were carefully sited in places that are shaded in summer, but sunny in winter. That allowed natural heating to reduce the need for warming fuels.