No matter what kind of heating and cooling system you're considering for your home, you absolutely can't beat the (free!) benefits of passive solar design, which relies on placing a building in its natural surroundings to make it more comfortable for its inhabitants—exactly what you're trying to do.
That means soaking up the low winter sun to keep you warm and blocking the high summer sun to keep you cool. Orient the longer axis of your home (called the ridge line) east/west so the longer dimension faces sunny south, give or take 20 degrees east or west.
Put the frequently used rooms—great room, dining, bedrooms—on this side. (Incorporate overhangs to create shade from the high summer sun.) Rooms that require little heat and light, such as utility and storage rooms, garages and even the kitchen, which generates its own heat, should be placed on the cooler north side.
For more on this home, check the November 2005 issue of Log Home Living.
Photography by James Ray Spahn