Solar Heating Options For Your Home

With the stress on our electrical grids and power supply concerns, more homeowners are opting to use solar heating for their home heating needs.

How Can a Solar Heating System Be Used?

Solar heating harnesses the power of the sun to provide solar thermal energy for solar hot water, solar space heating, and solar pool heaters. A solar heating system saves energy, reduces utility costs, and produces clean energy.

Solar Panels

Many people opt for solar heating for their outdoor swimming pools, which can take huge amounts of energy to heat.

Four Principles of Solar Heating

Passive Solar Heating is based on the idea that we can use the solar energy that naturally falls without installing specialized equipment.

Collection

In order to solar heat your home, you need to collect the sunlight first.

The natural sunlight that already falls can be collected through south-facing windows. They need to be high-performance, direct-gain windows situated vertically over a large surface area. These new windows are vastly different from conventional window designs, which lose energy at night at a greater rate than collected throughout the day. These new windows, however, are designed to retain indoor heat and amplify the sun’s energy.

Storage

As the solar energy is collected, it needs to be stored in building material called thermal mass. Examples of material good for solar energy storage include stone, drywall, brick, concrete, and adobe.

Distribution

The solar energy that has been collected and stored doesn’t need to be used all at once. Rather, it needs to be released as the temperature outside drops.

Energy-efficient construction of a passive solar heating system means that you should be able to avoid additional expensive or sophisticated distribution systems. The laws of thermodynamics work for you in this case as well – hot air rises and fills cooler spaces naturally.

Retention

All of that energy-efficient solar heating will do little good if your home is not adequately insulated. Whatever materials you choose, the recommended insulating factor of walls is about R-30 for walls and R-50 for ceilings. This may seem like overkill, but the appropriate insulation is a necessary investment for a passive solar heating system to work properly.

In addition, it’s important to seal your home against unnecessary air leakage. Start at more obvious points, such as doors and windows, then move onto to recessed lighting, pipes and wire ducts. Materials useful for reducing air leakage include weather-stripping, caulk and expanding foam.

Incorporate Passive Solar Heating Systems

The efficiency and reliability of solar heating systems have increased dramatically since they were first introduced, making them attractive options in the home or business. But there is still room for improvement.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its partners are working to design even more cost-effective solar heating systems and to improve the durability of materials used in those systems. This research is helping make these systems more accessible to the average consumer and helping individuals reduce their utility bills and the nation reduce its consumption of fossil fuels.

To help more Americans benefit from these systems, the U.S. Energy Policy Act implemented a 30% tax credit for consumers who install solar water heating systems. To be eligible for this tax credit, the systems must be certified by the Department of Energy’s non-profit partner, the Solar Rating & Certification Corporation (SRCC).

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