Passive Solar: How To Heat Your Home For Less

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Updated January 31, 2022

Sustainable 9

It’s not just a vision for tomorrow: Sustainable 9 Design + Build creates homes for tomorrow today, reflected in its enduring commitment to green, high performance, energy-efficient homes that are stunningly designed and custom-built.

Everyone loves the sun, so why aren’t you using it to your advantage through passive solar? We’ll break down some easy ways that you can use solar to heat your home and increase your natural light.

TWO TYPES OF SOLAR ENERGY

There are two simple types of solar energy, and each of them offers many benefits to homeowners, but we’ll focus specifically on passive solar in this post.

Active Solar

Solar energy that uses mechanical or electrical equipment to gather, store, and distribute solar power is known as active solar. Active solar is most often recognized as solar panels on homes that generate electricity. Still, other active solar systems can help to distribute heat or energy throughout your home. That brings us to passive solar!

active solar panels

Passive Solar

Passive solar focuses on the capture of solar energy without any extra equipment. This type of solar energy is used to passively heat and cool a home without the use of outside energy. By designing your home with passive solar in mind, you can ensure that you get the most out of your home’s location.

BENEFITS OF PASSIVE SOLAR

While natural light is a benefit in and of itself, it’s not the only benefit of choosing passive solar for your home and designing your layout intentionally.

  • Reduced energy costs
  • More natural light
  • Consistent temperatures in a home
  • More eco-friendly design

Saving money on heating bills is really important if you want to make the most of your budget and home. That saved money could be used to help your kids go to college or to make sure they have a nice car before they head out on the road.

How you use the saved money is up to you, but why not try your best to save where you can?

HOW PASSIVE SOLAR WORKS: HEATING + COOLING

The two critical dates to keep in mind as you’re designing and making plans for passive solar in your home are December 21st and June 21st. These two dates determine when the sun will be highest and lowest in North America. If you live in a different part of the world, do a quick search to find what those dates are for you.

Here’s a quick video that explains some of these ideas:

The Importance of Window Placement

Window placement is one of the most important aspects to consider regarding passive solar. Windows on the south side of your home will allow in the most sunlight and thus the most heat. During the summer months, the south-facing windows are optimized by letting in the least amount of sunlight as it’s directly overhead, and in the winter months, the south-facing windows catch the most light.

Windows on the east and west sides of your home are helpful for passive solar as well, but to a lesser extent than south-facing windows. This is because the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so those windows will get more light during the morning and evening hours and not much at all at other times of the day.

passive solar window placement

Orienting Your Home Correctly

Your roof’s exposure to the sun will make a huge impact on how well the home heats and cools passively. If your main roofline is facing south, your home will absorb a lot more heat throughout the winter months.

To offset this heat absorption during the summer months, plant some trees around your house that will grow and provide shade for the home. These trees should lose their leaves in the fall to provide you with plenty of sunlight all winter long.

Use a Thermal Mass

A thermal mass such as rock, stone, tile, or other solid materials will absorb heat throughout the winter months and transfer it to the inside of the home. Similarly, throughout the summer, these materials can absorb the heat on the inside of the house and transfer it out of the home.

Thermal mass is often used in homes built in more rugged environments or homes built into the side of hills and other landscapes.

brick wall thermal mass in living room that improves passive solar levels

Distributing Solar Heat

Passive solar heating doesn’t work by just having one room in the home that’s warm and toasty. The entire house should be designed to take advantage of passive heating and cooling. You’ll need to have a plan for distributing the heat evenly throughout your home.

This could mean using fans to move the air around, adding more windows on the east and west sides of the home to help bring in some heat, or using a passive solar heating system.

fan in living room distributing passive solar heat

CHOOSING A PASSIVE SOLAR HEATING SYSTEM

Sometimes a passive solar heating system is what your home needs to provide your family with the best temperatures and the most comfortable living. One of the most common systems is one that uses water.

The water is heated in one location and flows throughout the house to transfer that heat. Similar to hot water baseboard heat but instead heated by the sun. These systems take no energy other than the sun, making them completely passive.

SUSTAINABLE DESIGN FOR YOUR HOME

If you want to choose a sustainable design for your home, choose Sustainable 9. We specialize in creating efficient, eco-friendly homes that fit the needs of our customers and provide them with comfortable modern living.

Reach out to our team of sustainable design experts today! We’d be happy to provide you with an award-winning sustainable design.

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Sustainable 9

It’s not just a vision for tomorrow: Sustainable 9 Design + Build creates homes for tomorrow today, reflected in its enduring commitment to green, high performance, energy-efficient homes that are stunningly designed and custom-built.

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