...actually people have been building houses that utilize the power of the sun for millennia, paying attention to the climate and to where the sun appears in the sky in winter and summer as they choose the position and materials for their home. Just one example is the native peoples of the Southwest of what is now the United States: they built adobe houses that kept cool in the summer and retained heat in the winter.
But the first modern house that had integrated solar heating and radiation cooling is credited to Raymond W. Bliss. This house, finished on this date in 1955, used a large slanted slab of steel and glass to capture heat from the sun. This heat was ducted into the house. In the summer, the same ducts were used with fans to cool the house.
The house is in Tucson, Arizona, and it only cost $4,000 for materials and labor!
There is a lot of information on “green” home designs that utilize geothermal or solar power and passive heating and cooling. You can find a sample here and here and here—but there are so many links on Google that you could spend all day just sampling them!
But a word of warning: these houses cost a fair bit more than $4000 in materials and labor.
Learn some more...
I found this video to be very helpful in explaining passive heating and cooling.
DTE Energy has some kid-friendly info on solar energy and passive heating and cooling.
Also on this date: