Solar Heating System

Save Money With Passive Solar Heating

Between an active and passive solar heating system, the easiest (and most economical) tends to be the passive solar heating systems. Discover three tips that will make your solar heater more efficient.

The simplest form of passive solar heating, and the most common, is known as direct gain solar heating.

How Does a Direct Gain Passive Solar Heater Work?

A direct gain passive solar heater works by warming up materials that are designed to store heat. Sunlight enters your house through south-facing windows. These windows have a glazing material made of transparent or translucent glass.

The sunlight passes through these windows, warms the floor and walls (normally made of some type of masonry material such as ceramic or concrete tile and brick), storing the heat energy. The surfaces of the floor and walls are normally a dark color to absorb more heat.

At night, the heat is released as the floor and walls cool, moving throughout the home by means of thermal convection.

How to Improve Your Home's Passive Solar Heating

In order to increase the ability of a room to store heat energy from the sun, dark water-filled containers can be used inside your living space.

Water stores twice the energy masonry does due to its high specific heat. Also due to its high specific heat, water releases the heat energy in a much slower, consistent manner than masonry.

This allows heat convection to be more even, allowing for greater comfort and a reduction of traditional heat necessary throughout the night.

Avoid Too Much of a Good Thing!

It is also possible to overheat a room or house with passive solar heat energy. The amount of passive solar energy depends on the area of glazing on the window glass and the amount of thermal mass. The glazing area determines how much solar heat can be collected whereas the amount of thermal mass determines how much of that heat can be stored.

The ideal ratio of thermal mass to glazing varies by climate, and this is a good reason to consult with a local professional window company as to the type of window and glazing best suited to your environment.

Save Money and Heat by Choosing the Right Windows

Finally, the heat energy must be insulated from the outside environment. If solar heating is taking place on the floor and walls but the windows are allowing an easy transfer of heat energy to escape by conduction, it does little good.

Windows found for quick purchase in most warehouse retail centers may not work well to contain heat energy at night when the sunlight is no longer present and the release of heat energy from the floor and walls is occurring.

It is important to select the right type of window, and if you are an avid "do-it-yourself" person, you should check out the U.S. Department of Energy's various websites and programs concerning window purchasing.

The windows are important, but don't forget to block all air drafts around those windows as well as insulate all walls and ceiling areas possible. Doing this will go a long way in providing your home with a wonderfully satisfying solar heating system experience.

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