Ways to Maximize Passive Solar Energy for the Home

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Using solar energy is one of the best ways to cut down the utility bills. The concept itself is not new, but there are two ways to utilize solar energy for the home: active and passive solar systems.

Active solar system requires external sources of energy to collect solar radiation for energy. Solar energy is absorbed then stored for later use. The power absorbed from the active solar system is enough to power home heating and cooling systems.

On the other hand, the passive solar system does not require mechanical devices to utilize solar power. Solariums, sunrooms, and greenhouses are examples of the passive solar system. The sun’s rays are absorbed by the glass windows then retain the heat. This system can cut the heating costs by half. However, the system relies on the insulation abilities and thermal mass of the exterior walls to distribute heat.

Ways to Absorb Passive Solar Energy

Opening South-Facing Windows

Natural light does not require special tools to harness. This is a great source of heat and natural light. In fact, almost 100% of a structure’s heating needs can be provided by sunlight alone.

As such, create a home conducive to retaining heat. Once the summer season is over, go the south-facing windows of your home every morning. Then, open the curtains and remove anything that blocks the sunlight. By the day’s end, there is enough heat in that area to last the whole evening.

If you live in very cold climates, consider the placements of the windows and glass surfaces of the home. If you’re designing your home, adjust the openings in the south area of the building. Add smart but practical designs to trap heats, such as using heavy walls and floors, adding glass structures, etc.

Using Heat-Absorbing Building Materials

If the south-facing end of your home has a lot of windows, consider using darker colors to attract and retain heat. Dark colors will attract and retain natural warmth longer than light colors. If you’re designing a home, consider using building materials that naturally trap heat. These materials are bricks, tiles and stone walls. At nighttime, these materials will release heat as the temperature drops. You can incorporate these materials on sunlight-filled areas of the home to optimize heat retention.

Installing Cold Frames in the Garden

An excellent way to absorb seasonal sunlight is to use cold frames. Once the season starts heating up, install cold frames over young plants. This will help grow your garden. Cold frames will also protect your plants from nighttime frost. During the summer season, the cold frames do double duty as food dryers too. You can use the summer sun as a natural water heater.

Drying Clothes

Instead of using the dryer and wasting energy and money in the process, why not hang your wet clothes outside to dry? An electronic clothes dryer is the second most energy-hungry appliances in the home. You will save a lot of money if you hang the clothes outside instead.

Adding a Sun Wall

A sun wall is a wall layer with metal, glass and transparent materials on the outside and then an insulation on the inside. It will trap heat to maintain the natural warmth of a room. The heat is then dispersed to other parts of the home too.

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