Solar Energy

It’s a fact that all life depends on and comes from the sun. The production of oxygen and food would be impossible without solar energy. Farmers know the value of a large field with a plentiful supply of sunlight, and now individuals all around the world are taking this boundless source of diffuse energy more seriously as the finite supply of fossil fuels dwindle.

Today less than 0.1% of our heating, transportation and power energy comes from direct sunlight although it is now possible to meet all our energy needs with this simple, renewable resource.

Solar House

A solar house is any house that makes good use of the suns energy. It’s a solar energy fact that an ordinary house becomes a solar skylights and large picture windows facing south make an ordinary house into house when it gains more energy than it looses. Do you think the addition of a solar house? If these additions add a net heating value to a house that might be so, but if they lose more heat than they gain that will not be the case. Passive Solar greenhouse additions can transform ordinary houses into solar houses, but these additions are best suited for arid sunny areas. Active solar, hydronic systems are best suited for cold climates where sunlight is minimal and extended heat storage is critical.

Passive Solar Desgin

A “passive” solar house provides cooling and heating to keep the home comfortable without the use of mechanical equipment. This style of construction results in homes that respond to the environment.

For passive heating and cooling, the plan of the house, careful site selection and planning, construction materials, building features and other aspects of the home are designed to collect, store and distribute the sun’s heat in winter; and to block the sun’s rays in summer. Passive solar houses can be built in any architectural style and in any part of the country.

Why is solar energy so expensive?

There are many reasons why solar energy is so expensive. I’ll try to shed light on a few of them.

  1. Competition is minimal.
  2. Government regulations will not allow house owners to install their own systems.
  3. Architects are reluctant to approve innovative unproven solar house designs.
  4. Builders find that it is not profitable for them to spend excessive architectural fees on designs that are not mainstream and salable.
  5. The governments, who should be demonstrating a leadership position in the promotion and use of solar energy, is the primary offender of energy conservation and has no interest in the promotion of a sustainable culture that might threaten the aristocracy.
  6. The price of oil is maintained at an artificially low price by government subsidies and special interest groups.
  7. Most people are too busy dealing with the problems of day to day survival to be concerned with the headache of a long range investment like solar energy.
  8. Fossil fuel oil corporations, who control our economy are doing all they can to discourage the proliferation of alternative energies.
  9. We have become addicted to fossil fuel energy concentrates the way a child becomes addicted to candy.

The following techniques use passive solar strategies to provide heat:

Direct Gain: is radiant heat resulting from sunlight admitted directly to the living spaces through south-facing windows, which warms the interior surfaces (walls, furniture, floors, etc.). For direct gain, the south-facing window area must be sized for the climate, the type of window used and the amount of thermal mass in the home.

Indirect Gain: In a design that employs indirect gain, an attached sunspace or Trombe wall collects heat from the sun before transferring it to other spaces within the home. The air heated in a sunspace circulates naturally or with the aid of fans to other rooms.

Thermal Mass: is any material in the home that absorbs and stores heat. Concrete, brick, tile and other masonry materials are the most common choices for thermal mass in a passive solar home, these materials absorb and release heat slowly and are easily and inexpensively integrated into the house design. They are most effective when dark colored and located in direct sunlight. The addition of thermal mass allows saved solar energy to heat the house at night or on cloudy days. The combination increases the performance and energy-saving characteristics of the home, generally for only a modest cost increase.

Passive solar design utilizes energy efficiency

Energy efficiency minimizes the need for heating, cooling and electricity, solar or otherwise. Designers of solar homes use insulation levels that are higher than those found in typical construction and energy efficiency appliances and lighting.

Windows are up to twice as resistant to heat loss as those used in conventional construction. Air infiltration is also reduced by carefully sealing and caulking around window and door openings and under sill plates.

Sources: Nesea, JC Solar Homes

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