Home construction in Dillon is a little bit greener thanks to a new project that aims to harness the power of the sun.

Ron Swenson is the developer behind Dillon’s Blacktail Solar Homes, three residences on North Railroad Street near Veterans Memorial Park that are more than just your average solar-powered homes.

The Blacktail homes utilize solar panels, but that’s not what makes them special. What makes them notable is the way they keep their occupants warm in the winter.

The homes achieve their heating efficiency through the art of placement.

They are oriented so that the longest part of the home faces south, where the homes are equipped with a special kind of window that traps heat from the sun. This keeps the home warm, reducing heating costs in the wintertime.

Swenson explained that this simple but clever solution can keep the homes warm in the winter without overheating them in the summer because of the changing position of the sun.

In the winter, he explained, the sun follows a low, southerly path in the sky, maximizing the heat absorbed by the house. In the summer, the sun is high in the sky, and the homes get shaded by their roofs. In addition, the homes include water-tank heaters and an extra layer of sheetrock on their south sides to maximize the heat absorbed from the sun.

To keep temperatures down in the summer, the other sides of the home include a different type of window that doesn’t trap as much heat. Windows are also oriented to create cross-ventilation during the summer.

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