Residential solar heating

When it comes to residential solar heating, there are two broad types of solar heating available – passive and active solar heating. Both types of systems take advantage of the sun’s power by harnessing the solar energy in sunlight and then using it to heat a home. Residential solar heating is less expensive to install than a full home solar power system as it uses the energy in it’s initial form of heat, rather than going through the process of converting that heat into electricity.

Passive residential solar heating is best incorporated into the design of a newly constructed house but some techniques can be retrofitted into an existing structure. This type of residential solar heating utilizes techniques that require no other mechanical devices to capture and harness solar energy. By incorporating these techniques into the initial building plans, they will add little or nothing to the cost of construction and will save you money on energy bills for the life of the home.

With passive solar techniques, solar energy is utilized as heat through direct gain, indirect gain and thermal mass. Direct gain allows the sun access to the home through strategic use of high energy efficient windows. Materials in the home’s interior surfaces are planned to enable even distribution of this energy in order to maintain a comfortable temperature in the home. These materials are referred to as thermal mass and these help store the excess heat captured for when it is needed. Indirect gain methods also capture the heat but through structural elements such as sunspaces or water walls.

Active residential solar heating, on the other hand, makes use of mechanical devices to both capture, distribute and store the heat of the sun. Since even in the sunniest climates, there is still nighttime and storms that can hinder the ability to capture the solar energy needed. An active solar heating system can add to or take over for passive solar heating when necessary. With active solar heating systems, either air or fluids are heated by solar collectors. The air/fluid is then circulated in order to transfer this heat into the home.

To maximize the effectiveness of residential solar heating, it is best to combine both passive and active solar heating. If the home design has incorporated all the passive techniques when building it, then the active solar heating system can be smaller and less expensive. In warmer climates, you can often utilize residential solar heating to eliminate your household heating bills. Even in northern climates, by fully using both systems you can cut your household heating costs by up to 80%.

Active residential solar heating systems can be rather expensive initially with costs running as high as $80 per square foot of collection area. However, there are many rebates offered through local utility companies or state agencies. There are even tax credits that are often granted by the state and federal governments. By taking advantage of everything that is available in your area, you can often cut the initial installation costs in half for your active residential solar heating system.

There are two main driving forces behind the increasing popularity of residential solar heating options. Rising fuel prices in recent years have many people scrambling for ways to save on their home energy bills. Once a residential solar heating system’s cost is recovered, your system will provide you with free heat for many years. The other concern that has more people investigating solar energy use is the climate changes that have arisen from global warming. Solar energy doesn’t contribute to global warming as there are no emissions produced in the process of generating heat.

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