What Is Passive Solar Heating And How Is It Used?

Many people have heard of solar heating these days – more and more people are using it to heat their homes and pools and to save lots of money on their energy bills. But even if someone has heard of solar heating they may not be familiar with the systems!

What Is Passive Solar Heating?

Most people consider passive solar heating to be the most cost-effective way of providing heat for a building. This is because the amount of solar energy that typically falls on a building in a day is more than enough to power and heat that same home for the day. When passive solar heating systems are used in a building’s actual design, it costs nearly nothing extra and results in a huge reduction in energy costs.

When a house has a passive solar heating system, the house itself actually becomes the collector for solar energy. Every surface of the home that is exposed to the sun’s rays is collecting them. To adequately collect this sunlight, a passive solar heating system needs south-facing glass and thermal mass to absorb, distribute and store the heat.

The most common type of passive solar heating system is called a “direct gain” system. This system uses actual living space as a solar collector – sunlight comes into a room, strikes thermal mass materials in the house and gets retained where it raises the room’s temperature!

What Else Is Important With Passive Solar Heating?

Another thing that’s vital to a passive solar heating system working correctly is making sure that the home collecting the energy can actually store the heat correctly. A correctly insulated house adds value to a system because less heat escapes the house, meaning the passive solar heating system doesn’t have to be producing heat nearly as often.

And of course the design of a house using this system is important as well. First, the actual site of the house has to be considered – the sun travels across a southern arc. A house wanting to use a this system should not have trees, other houses or mountains that block the sun out for a period of time. Window placements matters to – south-facing glass windows allow direct sunlight into the home which helps support a passive solar heating system.

A building using a passive solar heating system should face south. They should be elongated on an east-west axis. Interior rooms that are more likely to be cold should be placed on the south to allow more direct sunlight into them.

Many people are converting their homes so they use solar hot water heating systems and passive solar heating systems.