I've mentioned before about how much we really love the sun. When we were investigating ideas for our house, we looked into a lot of options. We thought about a cob house. We were working out a floor plan for a yurt. We knew we wanted something that was efficient in some way - and that's what sold us on passive solar.
We literally live on top of a hill. We see no other houses and the only thing we do see other than trees is the stacks of a local power plant in the distance. And that's on the east side of our house, where we don't frequently look out the windows. It makes us laugh, because people think we live in a huge house because the whole south side is windows. It's really not that big! But, it certainly does look that way from the south.
For the passive solar design to be effective, there are some elements built into the design. An important one, especially for the winter, is the length of the overhang. Our roof has a two foot overhang! I'm used to it now, but when I drive by houses with no overhang at all, it looks weird :-)
The overhang keeps the sun out in the summer and allows for lots of sunlight to enter in the winter! We were skeptical at first, but were quickly proven wrong our first winter here. The sun can reach our woodstove and even the pennisula in the kitchen!
As the solstice approaches, we garner an even deeper appreciation of the sun. And look forward to the return of the light!