Every day, more and more people who want to cut down on their energy costs are switching to solar power. The biggest energy consumer in most homes is the heating system, so solar heating techniques have become particularly important in the past few years. There are two ways to heat a home through the power of the sun: active heating and passive heating. Both of them are useful, and a home can mix the two methods, but the precise balance will depend on local conditions. A local solar provider should be able to analyze the situation and figure out which options are best for each home.
Active heating harvests energy from the sun and uses that energy to heat a home. They are more similar to conventional heating systems than passive systems are, so they tend to be easier and cheaper to install in a home.
Active heating begins with a set of solar panels that generate energy. They need to be set up in a place that gets as much sunlight as possible, and they usually need to be tilted to maximize their potential. Some place their panels on the roof, while others set up a larger array in their yard. The home’s energy needs and local environmental conditions will determine what sort of array is necessary.
Energy from the array can power any electric heating system. Water heaters are the most common choice, but these systems are also compatible with air heating systems. Excess electricity can be used to power other parts of the home or sold back to the electric grid in many areas, so the system is still valuable even when the home doesn’t need more heat.
Passive heating systems take their heat directly from the sun and rely on efficiency to remove or reduce the need for active systems. It takes a lot more effort to install a passive system in an existing home than an active one, but it’s often worth the effort. It’s possible to add the improvements in small stages and to include them as part of other renovation projects, so even homes that won’t depend exclusively on a passive system can still use one to cover part of their needs.
Passive systems rely on heat that enters the home when the sun passes through windows. The windows should be positioned to maximize the amount of heat that can enter the home, which includes placing them at an angle and in specific positions.
The rest of the system is designed to preserve that heat, rather than letting it disperse like in other homes. Dark surfaces that absorb heat can be placed near the windows, and a home’s insulation can be improved to increase its thermal mass and prevent heat loss. Ventilation systems spread the heat through the home.
Putting It Together
All of the energy on the planet ultimately comes from the sun, and there’s no reason not to use it directly. Solar energy systems can save a huge amount of money in the long term, and they can also do a lot to preserve the environment. They may seem complicated, but all it takes is a visit to a specialist to find the right system and get started.