The Power of the Sun Can Help Heat Your Home

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Solar walls, also known as trombe walls, use a stone, masonry, or even a water-filled surface to absorb sunlight during the day and then release it back into the interior of a home at night.  This passive green building strategy of using thermal storage walls, can provide 20% of a home’s heat — for free!

The home pictured here utilizes the thermal mass concept with concrete floors and a concrete wall which aid in maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures year round.

Another innovative home that utilizes this technique was featured on World’s Greenest Homes on the Planet Green channel today.  A long hallway in the home has strategically-placed, south-facing windows along one side and a beautiful stone wall along the other.  The 8″-thick stone wall serves as an interior wall for each of the bedrooms.  The solar radiation is absorbed by the stone wall, then passes through the stone to the bedroom side,  which allows the rooms to be nice and toasty at night during cooler months.

A home should allow for natural ventilation so that during hot summer months, cool night air is allowed to enter the home.  This makes the trombe wall cool in the morning which helps keep the home’s interior cool during the day.  Another method to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature in the summertime is to plant deciduous shade trees along the exterior of a south-facing wall of windows.  Properly-sized overhangs, on the exterior, can also be integrated into the design of the home to block out the high summer sun.

By utilizing passive solar techniques, we can reduce our energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions, as well as pollution.  Trombe walls can be incorporated into existing homes or into new design plans.

Tag(s): Energy, Green Building, Greening the Home, The Great Green Outdoors


One Response to “The Power of the Sun Can Help Heat Your Home”

  1. Daisy on April 18th, 2009 9:35 pm

    We have older construction (Victorian, c. 1890), and I’m working on talking my husband into getting solar panels. The roof is steep, points south and east, so we could probably heat at least the water heater, if not more.

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