As the costs of power remain high, many green-minded individuals are beginning to see the value of solar panels and renewable services. Although initially expensive, it’s possible to add solar power to almost any home, and the long-term benefits may be larger than you ever imagined.
Around 75% of the residential energy used in the United States is related to space heating, and water heating. What’s more, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the homes of 115 million Americans contribute to the consumption of $266 billion in energy every year. With such significant power reliance required, solar power systems that can help heat your home and water may provide an environmentally sustainable and economically viable way of beating the bills.
This article will inform you of which steps to take, and what to consider when you’re thinking of adding solar power to your home heating system.
Step 1: Learn About Passive and Active Solar Heating
When most people talk about using solar power to heat their homes, they’re talking about “passive” solar heating. Passive solar heating is a way to assist your home heating system through helpful home design and the careful placement of certain features. So long as a home is designed with good heat-absorption materials, a sufficient thermal mass, and enough windows, then a passive solar heating system will work. After all, if you position your home so that the majority of the windows face the sun, you’re likely to get more light, and more heat.
Unfortunately, not all homes will lend themselves to passive heating opportunities, and that’s where active solar comes in. While active heating through solar power uses the same basic principles as passive energy collection, this system uses an “active” element, which transfers the heat from a collector or absorber to a thermal mass, or directly throughout the home. While there are numerous forms of active solar heating available, there are two particularly popular options to consider. The first solution heats liquid through a hydronic collector, while the other heats the air. Choosing the one that’s best for your circumstances will depend on the type of heating system you already have. For instance, if you have a forced-air system in your home, then you’ll want to use solar air heating, whereas if you have a radiant system, a solar liquid heating solution will be the better option.
Step 2: Installing a Solar Air Heating System
According to SEIA, the solar heating systems we use today are particularly effective, producing up to 80% of the available energy converted from solar input. Homeowners who choose to utilize an active solar air heating system will install machinery consisting of numerous moving parts — designed to circulate air around larger spaces. These solar heating systems use the energy drawn from a solar panel to heat the air, then transfer the heat into a storage system for later use, or into the interior space itself.
If the solar system is unable to provide adequate space heating by itself, a back-up or auxiliary system supplements additional heat. On the other hand, technologies for energy storage can work alongside solar heating systems to provide heat when there is no direct sunlight available.
Step 3: Considering Liquid-Based Solar Heating Systems
Many experts regard solar liquid collectors to be the best option for home central heating. When it comes to liquid heating, the concept is similar to air-based heating systems; a collector stores and builds heat energy. If the system for heating includes storage, then the heat energy passes into that; if not, the heat distributes throughout the home.
Liquid-based solar space heating systems can work with or without storage capabilities. Systems with storage have a number of insulated tanks, filled with sand or water, which retain the captured heat and distribute it within the home when required. On the other hand, systems without storage can only warm the building when the sun is shining, as they deposit the heat into the property itself.
Step 4: Use Solar for Water Heating
Finally, after basic heating and cooling requirements, water heating makes up a vital part of home heating requirements, contributing to up to 40% of total energy usage. Solar power water heating systems integrate easily into most homes, and once a solution is installed, it rarely requires a great deal of maintenance.
Solar water heaters use the warmth of the sun’s rays — rather than gas or electricity — to heat water for your home. Most basic systems contain a number of flat-plate collectors mounted on a roof, which absorb the sun’s heat and transfer it into water that circulates through a collector.
Make the Most of Solar
We’ve covered just some of the ways in which you can introduce solar power into your home heating system. The solution that you choose will depend on your personal needs and circumstances, however it’s fair to say that solar solutions offer a range of opportunities to maximize the economic and environmental benefits of your property. Get in touch with an expert today to find the right solar solution for your home.