Passive solar heating and cooling represents an important strategy for displacing traditional energy sources in buildings. Anyone who has sat by a sunny, south-facing window on a winter day has felt the effects of passive solar energy. Passive solar techniques make use of the steady supply of solar energy by means of building designs that carefully balance their energy requirements with the building’s site and window orientation. The term “passive” indicates that no additional mechanical equipment is used, other than the normal building elements. All solar gains are brought in through windows and minimum use is made of pumps or fans to distribute heat or effect cooling.
All passive techniques use building elements such as walls, windows, floors and roofs, in addition to exterior building elements and landscaping, to control heat generated by solar radiation. Passive solar heated buildings are designed to collect and store thermal energy from direct sunlight. Passive cooling minimizes the effects of solar radiation through shading or generating air flows with convection ventilation.
Passive solar homes range from those heated almost entirely by the sun to those with south-facing windows that provide some fraction of the heating load. The difference between a passive solar home and a conventional home is design. The key is to design the passive solar home to take the best advantage of your local climate. You can apply passive solar design techniques most easily when designing a new home. However, existing buildings can be adapted or “retrofitted” to passively collect and store solar heat.
Passive solar is limitless in design. Utilizing the orientation of windows and roof overhangs for solar gain in the winter months is just the beginning of many options. Solar hot-air boxes, hot walls and sun rooms can be designed into new construction, or added on to existing buildings, in many cases. Every home has different possibilities; let us help you tap into the free radiant energy from our sun.