Passive Solar Heat Can Save You Money Passive Solar Heat Can Save You Money

By Murray Anderson

While you probably don't think too much about it, your home is being partially heated by passive solar heat. Sure you don't have solar panels, collectors and batteries to store solar generated energy, but that sunny warm room on the south side of your house is warm because of passive solar heat. In the winter, this solar heat is a good thing, since any heat the sun contributes for free is saving you money. As an added bonus, not only is the heat free, there's absolutely no impact on the environment.  So, when you think about it, the objective for most of us should be figuring, out how to take the maximum advantage of the warmth provided by the sun.

Will solar heating work for me?

Passive solar heating takes place when sunlight passes through a window, hits an object, is absorbed and converted to heat. The most efficient window orientation for heat gain is due south, but any orientation within 30 degrees of due south is acceptable. A study by the National Renewable Energy laboratory found that almost 60% of the homes in the US receive enough sunlight that they could benefit from passive solar heating.

How can I take advantage of solar heating?

    * The best way is to start from scratch and design a home utilizing its location and placement, maximizing the number of south facing windows, and building in enough mass (concrete or masonry walls) to absorb and store the heat.
      Since that's not practical for most of us, here's some simple ideas on how you can maximize your heat gain from the sun, without spending thousands of dollars.
    * During the winter you want the sun to shine into your home bringing in all that free heat. Ensuring that windows facing south are uncovered during the day will allow the heat to come in. Your walls, floors and furniture will all absorb some of that heat then gradually give it up as the day wears on and the sun disappears.
    * Increasing the size of the windows or installing double or triple glazed surfaces in the same openings will allow the sun's heat to come in and keep it inside.
    * Windows with 'Low E' (low emittance) coatings maximize solar gain, while Argon gas between the layers of glass greatly increases the R value of the window itself
    * Insulated curtains that can cover windows in the evening and at night will also help keep the heat in.
    * Dark colors will absorb more heat than light colors so using darker color paint on the walls as well as darker furniture will trap more heat. You don't have to paint a room black to gain some advantage of the fact that darker colors absorb heat. Even just using a darker shade of a light color will help.
    * Let the sunshine in.
    * Don't plant evergreen trees on the south side of your home. Since they don't loose their leaves the way deciduous trees do, they will block out the rays of the low lying winter sun.
     
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer over 500 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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