Follow the sun! This can apply to many things, from designing a global software platform to building a new home. In general, we know that the sun rises in the east but it sets in the west. How do we take advantage of that when building a home? Well, on this side of the planet, south facing elements of any object will get more sun in the winter, and the north facing side will get more sun in the summer.
So how do we take advantage of that? With a simple home design, align the roof line to go basically east-to-west creating a large south facing element. Then, design your home to take the greatest advantage of the south facing element. Put more windows here. Include a patio. Put the rooms that you will be in the most here, like the kitchen or family room.
Use rooms on the north side as a buffer against the sun in the summer and the cold in the winter. This may mean designing it with fewer windows and using this space for the in rooms used the least.