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Passive Solar Home

Passive Solar Home is not so much a home efficiency or renewable energy product such as solar panels, but a class of methods for laying out your home to exploit the free energy provided by the sun. Maximizing solar gain in the winter can vastly reduce your heating bill. Rather than having a conventional block house, your home can be tuned to your local climate to take advantage of the amount of daylight available. These features should always be considered when designing a new home, and can be retrofitted into an existing home. There are also many things you can do to maximize the sun's influence without major expense. Here are some suggestions:

  • Open your curtains or blinds covering the windows on the south side of your (or equator facing side) of the house during the day. Close the curtains at night.
  • Assure that all the curtains, windows, and doors on the north side of the home remain closed during the winter.
  • Trim bushes and trees that may shade the south side of the house in the winter.

Here are some related passive solar topics.

  • Passive solar Energy
  • Passive solar Home Design Designing a new home should take into consideration placement of the structure so that it is oriented to maximize the effects of the sun in the winter and minimize the effects in the summer. Some general rules of thumb are to include plenty of windows on the south and east sides, no windows on the west and north sides, have a taller wall on the south side and a short wall on the north side.
  • Passive solar Home Retrofit A cost effective addition to the home is to attach a solarium or greenhouse to the south side of the house. You can leave the floor unfinished and plant vegetables and tomatoes. This area would be primarily built with framing and glass. The existing wall would remain in place with possibly an access door installed.
  • Passive solar Heating

    When your home doesn't lend itself to solar gain it is possible to install a passive solar heater. This is a flat box attached to the exterior of the dwelling that converts sunlight into heat and then moves the heat into the house. You can make these yourself. There are plenty do it yourself solar heaters posted on youtube. Here is one commercial passive solar heater video. The convecting tubes are made of recycled aluminum cans.

    Similar concept works with solar water heaters. Instead of passing cold air through the sun exposed area, you are pumping water through.

  • Passive Solar Homes

    Passive solar home maximize the use of the sun to keep the house warm on cold winter days. They are typically designed with large windows facing the equator and have an overhang to prevent the water from coming in the summer. There are many techniques used to implement this, making it an artistic endeavor.

  • Earthship Design

    An earthship is passive solar housing on steroids. They are in a category of home known as Deep Green. Earthships, developed by architect, Michael Reynolds, require no fossil fuel heating or cooling. They are completely self sustainable. Not only do they not use traditional heating and cooling methods, they are also designed to provide all water without drilling a well or receiving water from a municipality.

    In addition, they can even provide food to eat. To top it off they are made primarily from recycled materials. As beneficial as these homes are, they are so unconventional that local permitting in many counties is difficult to achieve. Therefore, Mike recommends buying land in a county that does not have a large city. Raw land is usually cheaper there anyway. He says it's much easier to get permitting in a county where the population is small enough that government is almost non-existent. He calls these counties Pockets of Freedom.

  • Solar Cooking

    Solar cooking is probably one of the easiest way to use the sun to at least partially replace your gas or electric stove. As with solar heaters there are many implementations. However, it basically works by placing your pot of food under several pieces of reflective material in sunny weather. The climate doesn't matter. The solar oven can get hot enough to boil water. So, even on a cold freezing day, as long as the sun is out, you can cook.

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