Yeah! Summer is finally here! Get out the suntan lotion and bug spray! After the long dark winter, and cold spring, the warmth of the summer sun's rays feels absolutely revitalizing.
The sun provides light, warmth and just a great alive feeling. The sun can provide so much more too! The sun's rays can not only heat the outdoors, but it can also help heat your home when the temperatures begin to drop again in fall. A properly designed passive solar home can take advantage of the sun's varying angles in both winter and summer to cut down on your energy bills to both cool and heat you home.
Passive solar heating is the simplest way to take advantage of cheap renewable energy. You probably heard of southern exposure, most likely in the form of the best place to put your sun loving plants. Well, orienting your house to take advantage of the sun's natural heat will not only help your plants grow, but will also cut down on your heating and cooling bills if designed properly.
The Earth is a sphere and spins on an axis that is tilted 23 degrees.
It is easiest to understand why sun comes in your southern-facing windows if you look at how a house sits on the planet and how the sun shines on the house in summer and winter.
In both summer and winter, the wall of the house that faces the South Pole is the one that faces the sun. The sun shines differently on the house in the summer than it does in the winter. The angle of the sun with respect to the house changes with the seasons. In the summer, the sun is much higher in the sky and shines more from over head, whereas in the winter the sun cuts across the house more directly.
Having deep eaves on your house will block the hot summer sun but let the warm winter sun shine in. This change in the sun's angle between summer and winter is what makes a passive solar home design a way to take advantage of some free energy from the sun.
As a matter of fact, passive solar design is nothing new. Thousand of years ago the Anisatzi Indians of the Southwest built cliff dwellings into the south facing cliffs of the high desert. The natural overhangs provided protection from the high summer sun, but let the lower winter sunshine in to provide natural warmth during the cool winter months. By warming the cliffs of the dwellings all day the solid rock absorbed and retained the winter sun's heat and slowly released it at night providing heat for their homes.
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