Mention the word solar in relation to a home and most people get ideas of panel systems on roofs. In truth, any home with windows is using solar energy.
Easy, Free Energy
You may not realize it, but you live in a solar home. In fact, every home you’ve lived in was powered with solar in one form or another. This concept is known as passive solar and can be used to save you serious money on utilities.
In every home, there is a room or set of rooms that bake in the sun during the day. Many people know this, but don’t realize it, when they complain about certain rooms burning up during the day while others are cold. The hot rooms, of course, are sitting in the sun all day. Since the sun is essentially a nuclear reactor, the power is sends to the earth is immense. Rooms can heat up to sweltering temperatures within 30 minutes as a testament to this power. Given some thought, you can use this power to passively heat your home.
Sunlight is very easy to put to work in a home. When you want heat, let it in. When you don’t, block the access areas. When sun energy enters an area through a window, the area is known as an isolated gain location. For instance, light streaming through a bedroom window will make the room an isolated gain area that heats up if you close the door. There are two excellent ways to put this to your use.
You can use sunlight to passively heat your home by adding isolated gain areas that track the path of the sun. Heat rises and evens out through a home. If the home has isolated access areas that track the path of the sun, you can gain free heat throughout the day. Most homes will have windows at the end of each home, but limited sunlight access through the roof. A good way to add heating to your home is through sun room roofs or skylights.
A second method for turning the sunlight into heat involves materials. Certain materials take longer to heat up in the sun, but also will generate heat longer once the sun has set. This is known as using thermal mass to heat a home. For instance, masonry materials universally collect and hold energy from the sun. Used for flooring below a window, the materials will heat up throughout the day. Once the sun sets, the materials will continue to expend heat for hours on end. If you doubt this, give some thought to how long your fireplace continues to radiate heat after the fire has gone out.
Using sunlight to heat your home passively will never replace the need for utilities. Minor home improvements, however, can help create heat during the day and make your home more comfortable.