Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Passive Solar Heat

Let That Sunshine In!

March is finally here; it couldn't come soon enough for me.  After enduring a Midwestern winter, these first warm days in the 50s are a blessing. 

They are also a golden opportunity to heat your house with an energy source you don't have to pay for:  solar.  Even without expensive collectors and arrays, you can heat your house with passive solar energy, just by opening curtains and blinds on east-facing windows in the morning, and south- and west-facing windows in the afternoon.  (I find the north-facing windows never collect that much sun, but that may have something to do with the construction/positioning of our house.)

Even with temps in the upper 40s at the start of the week, I was able to heat my house up to 64 degrees with passive solar yesterday, which is a degree above the 63 degree set point of my thermostat for daytime.  I expect today, with temps in the upper 50s, the sun will warm the house even more.  I will start turning the heat off during the day and just using it to "catch" the house at night so nothing freezes (including me).

The Analysis

Fast:  Can't get much faster than opening those curtains!

Cheap:  Every degree you heat your house by passive solar is one you don't pay for from the gas or electric company.  In my part of Ohio, this is the official start of three months of spring savings on power bills, which will probably end in June when I finally cave in on using the A/C.

Good:  Nothing prettier or nicer than a warm, bright house on a spring day, particularly when you don't have to pay for it!
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