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Solar Heating Options for Your Home
Most people are familiar with solar power but few have heard of solar heat. You really can heat your home using the heat of the sun, however, and more and more homeowners are doing just that. Some of the options for solar heating include solar convection heaters, greenhouses, and passive solar design.
Solar Convection Heaters
Solar convection heaters are powered by the sun itself and can be used to heat any building that gets sufficient sunlight during the winter. You can buy them ready-made or construct them yourself out of readily available materials, such as spare lumber and Plexiglas. These heaters pull air into one side, warm it gradually as it passes through a convection chamber, and then release the air into the house. A backup heater may be necessary in really cold climates on cloudy days.
An attached greenhouse is another great way to heat your home during the winter. The glass walls trap heat inside the greenhouse; it can be hot and balmy inside while there is snow on the ground. Heating your house becomes as simple as opening the doors to the greenhouse; the heat will move inside of its own accord. The house can also be heated at night using this method if the greenhouse contains sufficient thermal mass, such as tanks of water or a floor made of stone. These materials absorb heat during the day and release it slowly during the night.
Passive Solar Design
Finally, if you are about to build a new house, you can incorporate solar heating options right from the start. If you orient your house towards the south and adjust the windows and overhangs so that the winter sun will shine inside, you can easily take advantage of free heat from the sun using the greenhouse effect. The effect can be increased by using flooring materials and furnishing with a high thermal mass.
Using solar heat to warm your home in the winter is a viable option. It does not matter how old your house is or how it is designed; as long as you get enough sun during the winter, there is a solar heating option that will work for you.