Using the sun to heat up a home is growing by leaps and bounds in popularity these days. To really save money with solar, the best way is to design your home or improvements with solar in mind.
Taking Solar Into Account When Designing Your Home Improvements
In this case, we are not talking about using active solar panels to heat your home. We are merely talking about orienting your home in a particular way as well as emphasizing certain features. While this may sound odd at first, it is an extremely popular and cost effective energy production method used throughout the world.
To pursue this strategy, you must pay careful attention to how you design your house or improvements. One of the biggest errors made by people is the failure to take in all aspects of home heating and cooling. This can lead to a situation where you are producing far too much solar heat and the house becomes an oven. Get it wrong in the other direction and you don’t have nearly enough heat. Here are the key issues to consider.
The first issue, the site location, is almost always overlooked. Ideally, you want unobstructed sunlight to hit the south side of the home for at least six hours in the middle of the day. Contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t matter what part of the United States you live in. There is sufficient sun exposure everywhere, although areas heavy with fog and cloud cover may be problematic. Regardless, the home must receive the aforementioned amount of sunlight. If it doesn’t, you are not going to be happy with the results.
The second issue many people miss out on is commonly known as the axis orientation. In the Northern Hemisphere, the south wall of structures will receive the most sun exposure. To efficiently use this energy, your home must be oriented to expose the longest wall of the structure to the south. The more surface area you have facing the sun, the more heat and light you will be able to generate in the home. On the other hand, if you orient a short side to the sun, it is going to produce less heat and be harder to circulate it through the length of the home.
The third issue ties in into axis orientation. To produce heat, you must have a vast majority of the windows on the south side of the home. Unless you are using a solar capture wall, it makes little sense to orient your home correctly without letting the sunlight in. Conversely, you need minimize windows on the north side of the home or at least use super energy efficient windows to keep heat from escaping. You don’t want to create a wind tunnel from the south to north side of the structure as air temperatures try to balance out!
You may have some doubts about how much heat a properly planned structure will produce. Hyperbole aside, your home will cook. The sun is incredibly powerful. Imagine sitting in your car on a sunny day with the windows rolled up and no air conditioning. The same thing will happen with your home.
To combat excessive heat, you should include some mechanism for reducing the amount of sun coming into the home. The easiest answer is to put curtains or some such thing on the interior, but it doesn’t always work for large bay windows. To resolve this problem, you should put some type of a retractable overhang on the exterior of the home. You can install the roller under the lip of the roof. They don’t look nearly as cheesy as they used to and you’ll be happy you did so when summer rolls around.
Taking advantage of the sun for heating is not particularly complicated. If you keep the above issues in mind, you’ll be able to smile when your neighbors complain about their utility bills.