Passive solar design is simply a strategy that aims to provide maximum thermal comfort while utilizing the minimal amount of delivered energy.
- Passive solar design can have benefits in any climate;
- you just need to focus on what you are trying to achieve given the climatic demands.
Strategies for your subtropical climate
I am assuming the climate in North Texas is subtropical with hot summers and not a huge heating demand in the winter.
In a moderate climate like this, building orientation, shading, ventilation, building envelope integrity and insulation are far more important than thermal mass.
- Think about blocking the sun with overhangs and shade trees and orienting the house so that it gets minimal solar penetration in the summer.
- Then build a highly efficient and well-insulated envelope using OVE framing techniques and superinsulation like expanding foam. Ventilate using an ERV (energy recovery ventilator) for ventilation and humidity control.
For more information:
Read Greg Upwall's Q&A "We want to design a passive-solar home for a hot climate. Can we still have views to the east?"
Also, a great resource for passive solar design is the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy website. It has a whole section on passive solar design.