The Process of How the Passive Solar Project Began

I’m a visual learner and if I can sketch a concept, it helps me to better understand it. I was traveling near end of February and was lamenting a return to a cold house.  As I thought about this, I was on a warm plane returning to Colorado. I must admit that I enjoy traveling, as it broadens my perceptional thought process and I’m able to work well on a plane as I can’t go anywhere or be distracted.  As I flew through time and space, I started writing about my understanding of how passive solar works. Below is an explanation of the crude drawings that explain the process of why I have decided to embark upon this passive solar retrofit project.  I drew current (drawings 1 and 3) and idea situations (drawings 2 and 4) that are possible if I am able to convert the current cold, stone house into a more efficient passive solar one.  At this point in time, I realize that there are still many, many processes to go through: city codes, design, financing, actual construction… etc.  This, however, is how the process began.  (Picture of the house)

Drawing #1

Daytime – Not-so-good   The stone house is made up of a material that has inherent thermal mass and can potentially absorb heat energy throughout the day. Currently, the potential solar heat is not being utilized because the stone in the house is exposed and it has wood flooring does not absorb the heat. Since the house tends to be colder in the winter, I use (expensive) natural gas to heat the house.  While meanwhile, the sun shines its (free) heat energy onto the house.  This heat, however, is not captured, utilized and controlled.

Drawing #2

Daytime – Ideal Future – Good   If the rock (stone) already in house was to be enclosed and insulated, with large southern facing windows and a concrete floor, the low winter sun’s heat energy would have the potential to be absorbed into the thermal mass of the house.  The smiley face indicates that this would be good as it would lead to greater warmth and efficiency.

Drawing #3

diagram of a cold not passive solar houseNighttime,  Current – Not-so-good   The solar energy that could have been heating the house, instead radiates out into the cold winter night. This heat energy that was absorbed into the stone that makes up the house, is not warming the house and is not an efficient use of the materials in the house. The house instead creates a brrrrr environment, which is lame.  To try to avoid a lame environment, I reluctantly turn on the gas heater. (Each time the natural gas heater turned on, which was quite frequent, I thought, “Well, there’s another dollar.”)        

Drawing #4

Nighttime – Ideal – Good!   The crude diagram shows an ideal and efficient passive solar retrofit project that has encased the front of the house and allows heat to be released or radiated out from the sources of thermal mass that have absorbed heat energy throughout the day.  The stored heat energy from the sun would also radiate inward to warm the house.  A warmer house!  This would cut down on the need for natural gas forced air, and the whole house would simply, be warmer and more efficient. I think this is a lovely concept.  This is why I would really like this project to work.  So why not try?  I’ll blog about the process…

Keya Lea

Keya Lea likes to spend time outside, enjoying the sun.

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