Solar energy presents one of the cleanest renewable energy platforms we have available to us. Sometimes, however, it works to well and can turn your house into a scorcher.
Passive Solar Problems – Too Much Heat
Although you probably do not realize it, your home is heated using passive solar as the energy source. No, we are not talking about solar panels here. Instead, passive solar simply refers to the heat produced when sunlight inherently enters you home through windows and starts to produce heat by warming up floors, furniture, carpets and so on. In some instances, savvy people intentionally orient their house to take advantage of passive solar, but most people don’t have a clue it is happening.
The sun is extremely powerful. Obviously, it is the basis of all life on our planet. Most people don’t realize how much energy is contained in sunlight. For example, how many times have you left a vehicle in a parking lot only to come back and find it blazing hot inside? This is passive solar at its finite best. The sunlight penetrates through the windows and heats up the interior of the vehicle. Now you understand passive solar and, ironically, one of the potential problems with it.
When it comes to passive solar heating in a home, it can work to well. Regardless of whether you are intentionally or unintentionally pursuing passive solar, you know how hot a home can get. During the summer, it can be downright brutal. There are, however, simple steps you can take to mitigate this problem.
The first problem has to do with intrusion. Simply put, too much sun is penetrating into your home. You already know the answer from a common sense perspective – shading. In this case, you need to pull the shades over windows on the south facing side of the house. In the northern hemisphere, the south side of your home will always get the most sun. If you don’t want to put shades up, close the door to the room in question to cut off the heat circulation. You can open it later in the evening when things start getting cool and you could use a bit of heat.
If you are intentionally designing for passive solar, there is a landscaping trick you can do to maximize passive solar production in winter, but limit it in summer. In this case, we are talking about trees. Specifically, you should plant trees that grow a heavy leaf canopy in the summer, but lose all their leaves in the winter. Put in front of large windows, these trees will act as a natural temperature regulator for your passive solar system.
Ultimately, the key to beating too much heat in your house during the summer is to simply understand where it is coming from. If you can block the ingress of the sunlight, you can cut the heat to manageable levels.