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
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
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