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Collecting and blocking light

November 7th, 2006

Today I was out measuring the position of existing electrical, water and gas services, in addition to gathering more information about the trees that will shadow our house.Positioning your house and windows to best take advantage of the sun (to capture it in the winter and avoid it in the summer) is one of the easiest ways to improve the efficiency of a home.

All buildings and most trees were already on our survey, but it didn’t include unusual details such as how tall and wide the trees are. This can have a big impact on the amount of light we’ll need to avoid in the summer and somewhat reduce the sun we’ll receive in the winter.

I don’t have any tools to precisely measure tall heights so for the time being I just put a standing tape measure, extended 6′, at the base of various trees and took a photograph. I then counted the number of pixels in the photo that made up the 6′ tape measure, and compared it to the object in question.

The obvious problem with this method is that the tops of the trees are farther away than the bottoms of the trees, so the taller the tree is, the more inaccurate my measurement will be. But it should give us a good estimate.

The attached images illustrate why deciduous trees are useful to have around your property. With leaves, the trees block the sun in the summer. Without, they allow us to gather more heat through our windows.

Elevation of tree across the street Tree coverage to the south-west Elevation of power hookups

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