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Our downeast solar home

Designing our solar home


We were still living in the UK when we began the house design, so a good architect based in Maine was a must.  After a bit of web searching, we came across the website of Theodore and Theodore Architects, who are based near Bath, in Maine. We saw that the buildings they had designed won awards for their solar features.


We liked the style of Theodore and Theodore’s buildings, which include passive and active solar features. Their designs are modern, yet sympathetic to local building styles, use local materials and are sustainable. Although we were still living in the UK at that time, we worked with Theodore and Theodore using Yahoo Groups to share information, to come up with a design.  


We wrote them a brief about the way we live, our likes and dislikes. They came up with a great design on the first iteration. They also helped us choose the best site to build our house.  After a few minor adjustments we were ready to go ahead with the build.


Our top tip:


Grill your architects. What energy efficient homes have they designed? Ask to visit one or more. They should be able to offer you loads of ideas on how to incorporate energy savings into your plans. All architects should be able to do this, but sadly, many don’t. The American Institute of Architects has resources  for people who want to work with architects who are interested in sustainability.


For more details of our design, click the links below or go to the next page.


Passive solar design features  - how the design of the house makes use of solar energy

Active solar design features  - additional equipment which captures solar energy

Other energy sources   - for when the sun doesn’t shine

Insulation - keeping the heat in (or out)

Electrical system





A snippet of our plans.