DIY Green Energy For Homes

Home Sweet Solar Home - A Passive Solar Design Primer

Homeowners in the US spend more than $100 billion on energy every year. On average, you can expect to contribute upwards of $1000.

In an average home, heating and cooling account for almost 40 percent of the total energy consumed.

Fortunately, passive solar energy can offset a huge chunk of that energy you use to heat and cool and therefore reduce the amount of money you spend on energy.

It’s been a long trek for passive design, from the days of the roof ponds and the water walls in the 1970s up to today’s modern designs. Current passive solar houses have much in common with standard residential buildings than not. Contemporary designs conceive living spaces that are comfortable, attractive, bright and affordable to heat and cool.

The costs of passive solar construction may be a mere 5 percent addition to the overall cost of constructing a new home. Any added cost normally gives a 15-20 percent tax-free return on investment through the savings made on energy costs.

Majority of homes being constructed today will still be in use 50 to 100 years from now. A good design eventually leads to huge energy savings over course of the building’s life. The question is, why hasn’t passive design been widely adopted?

Basics of a passive solar design system

The design of a passive solar system is in such a way as to collect, store and disseminate energy without the use of electrical or mechanical devices. This may perfectly define a passive solar design for purposes of a glossary but passive design is more than definition. It is about quality of life, a better life; in any measure it could be understood.

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Passive solar design harnesses solar energy to create to make spaces for living and working more energy efficient and more pleasurable to be in. essentially, it greatly reduces the reliance on fossil fuels and the pollution that comes with it. On top of that, the principles governing passive solar design are pretty simple to master and incorporate into a new building.

There are five principles on which passive solar deign is premised, which aim at optimizing the way solar energy is used to heat and cool your living space:

• Constructing buildings with a southward orientation

• Use energy efficient windows properly placed

• Roof overhangs must be well calculated

• Efficient energy storage using thermal mass (such as tiled, concrete floor)

• Efficient insulation and thermal properties

The concept

In passive solar design, the windows are placed facing south to capture the sun’s energy into the house. Thermal mass stores much of the heat and reduces temperature variations in the house. Adequate insulation ensures that energy is conserved both for heating and cooling. This is the concept of passive solar design, pretty plain and simple.

Designs for passive solar heating and cooling can easily and cheaply be incorporated into a new construction but they are a little harder to remodel into an existing structure because many of its components are integral to the house.

Investing in passive solar design surely continues to pay off well beyond your lifetime.

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