Hi, this is Mary. We live in Northeastern Kansas where the winters can get pretty cool. We do not have any solar panels so one might ask, "Where is solar energy used at our house?" Everywhere, of course, especially on the west side of our house where we have lots of windows facing the evening sun.
The most important benefit we receive from solar energy, though, is on our south-facing front porch. During the first summer we lived here we were so grateful that this porch was glassed and screened! The mosquitoes here are voracious!
The best use of that porch, though, was during the fall, winter, and spring seasons. Our little ones were free to keep their scooters and trikes out there and have a great time of being "outside", yet safe from cooler weather and the neighbors' dogs.
We had not known what a grace that south porch was until we'd lived the whole year at this house. During the summer the sun is high so the porch shielded the front of our house from the heat. During the other three months the sun gets low and shines right in those glass windows (of course they're closed) and warms it up for all but two months.
I thought you might like to know this in the event that you will be building a home or simply wanting to add a porch or sunroom to your existing homes, etc. That front porch has served as a three season room for us and holds many memories for us.
Some of those memories include one of our warmest Christmas Traditions. We lay garland filled with white lights on the window sill all the way around and put a matching wreath on our front door. The ambiance at night is so warm and inviting! The porch itself frequently is still warm in the evening and the children marvel to play out there in a hole new atmosphere!