VIEWS: 6 PAGES: 1 POSTED ON: 10/12/2010
Building a Home to Incorporate Passive Solar Heating As global warming and fuel prices encroach upon our daily lives, renewable energy sources are gaining a lot of attention. Solar is one form of renewable energy you can incorporate into a new home without using panel systems. Mention the phrase solar power and what do you think of? Panel systems comprised of a bunch of solar cells. Maybe they are in the backyard. Maybe on the roof. Regardless, they are bulky, expensive and not much to look at when it comes to the appearance of your home. Fortunately, there is another form of solar power you can take advantage of without using panel systems. Passive solar is a concept that focuses on using the power in sunlight to heat a home. More importantly, the concept incorporates solar heating both during the day and night. If you are building a new home, you would be wise to give the concept some thought. A new home should last for a long time and passive solar heating can save you a ton of money in heating costs over that time. In many cases, it may eliminate the heating costs entirely. Passive solar is a theory based on heat retention and heat movement. The classic example of solar heating is parking your car in the sun at a mall on a sunny day. What happens when you come out? The interior of the car is roasting hot. Why? The sun has beat down through the windows and heated up the surfaces in the car. With the windows up, the heat is retained and the surfaces can get painfully hot. This is heat retention. What is the first thing you do when you want to get in the car? You roll down the windows. Why? The hot air will escape, which cools the car. The heat escapes because hot air always moves away from hot surfaces and towards cooler surfaces. This is known as heat movement. You can use heat retention and movement to incorporate passive solar heating in your home. The idea is to let as much sun as possible through the south facing wall of your home, typically through large windows. To retain the heat, you want to maximize your thermal mass. This is done by placing absorbing materials and colors on the ground below the windows. During the day, these materials absorb the heat. They will give off some of it, but not as much as you might think since the air in the house is normally fairly warm. Once the sun goes down, your thermal heat products will start to radiate heat. Why? Well, the cooling air temperature will act to suck the heat out of the materials much like opening your window in the hot car resulted in the hot air getting sucked out the windows. Ah, but how long will the thermal mass heat the home? Well, if you are building your home from scratch, you can incorporate enough of the proper material that it will radiate heat throughout the entire night. Obviously, this article represents an overview of passive solar heating. If you are building a new home, however, you would be wise to look into the concept. Fuel prices are only expected to rise in the future, so a little proactive planning could save you a bundle in heating costs. Rick Chapo is with SolarCompanies.com - information on building your own home.
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