Daylighting is the use of windows and skylights to bring sunlight into buildings and homes. Daylighting in businesses and commercial buildings can result in substantial savings on electric bills, and not only provides a higher quality of light but also improves productivity and health. Daylighting in schools has even improved student grades and attendance. For homeowners, daylight can also reduce electricity usage. If you work outside of home and are away most of the day, you probably will not notice the big difference. But if you stay at home or work from home, daylighting can make a big difference from light to heat.
Today’s highly energy-efficient windows, as well as advances in lighting design, allow efficient use of windows to reduce the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours without causing heating or cooling problems. For older homes, the windows are not well insulated and usually were designed in small sizes. If you have the means to replace them, you should take advantage of the solar energy. If you happen to live in the northeast where winters are long and cold, new and energy efficient windows can save you a lot in the long run.
To get the most out of solar energy, it doesn’t mean that you have to go out and get someone to install solar panels on the roof today. There are many ways we can benefit from the solar power. One is the indirect gain – Trombe Walls.
An indirect-gain passive solar home has its thermal storage between the south-facing windows and the living spaces.
Using a Trombe wall is the most common indirect-gain approach. The wall consists of an 8–16 inch-thick masonry wall on the south side of a house. A single or double layer of glass is mounted about 1 inch or less in front of the wall’s surface. Solar heat is absorbed by the wall’s dark-colored outside surface and stored in the wall’s mass, where it radiates into the living space.
The Trombe wall distributes or releases heat into the home over a period of several hours. Solar heat migrates through the wall, reaching its rear surface in the late afternoon or early evening. When the indoor temperature falls below that of the wall’s surface, heat begins to radiate and transfer into the room. For example, heat travels through a masonry wall at an average rate of 1 hour per inch. Therefore, the heat absorbed on the outside of an 8-inch-thick concrete wall at noon will enter the interior living space around 8 p.m.
Basically, daylighting is solar lighting through the windows and skylights. You bring in the sunlight through windows and skylights. It can save you significant amount of energy and cut on electricity bills. Unless you live in an area that receives little sunlight throughout the year, most houses and building can benefit from daylighting. The other good thing about daylighting is that natural light is better for your health. Humans, animals, and plants all need sunlight.
Artificial lighting can never replace natural light from the Sun. So if you’re thinking about buying or building a new home, consider the options of daylighting. Many schools are encouraged to have large windows to help improving students’ grades and health.
Did you know that clear glass transmits up to 90% of solar radiation. It either absorbs or reflects only 10% of solar radiation.You would think since clear glass can transmit solar radiation in, it can also transmit it back. The beauty is that, it doesn’t, after solar radiation is transmitted through the glass and absorbed by the home, it is radiated again from the interior surfaces as infrared radiation.
Although glass allows solar radiation to pass through, it absorbs the infrared radiation. The glass then radiates part of that heat back to the home’s interior. In this way, glass traps solar heat entering the home. So that’s why many energy efficient homes have almost all glass walls or large windows.
Solar water heaters are great. They will save energy, money, and the environment. But before you buy and install a solar water heating system, you need to first consider your home’s solar resource. Not all homes are suitable for a solar water heater system. It all depends on how much sun light your home gets.
Solar water heating systems use both direct and diffuse solar radiation. Ideally, if you live in a sunny, dry, and warm climate, it’ll be great to install one. However, northern climate might still have enough solar resources. The most important is where your home is built. If it’s built in a heavily wooded area, then it’ll not work.
The best way for you to find out if not through guessing, but consulting a solar system supplier or installer. They’re trained professionals who can conduct a solar site analysis.
With the large window and skylights installed in the house, it’s definitely a great way to harvest solar energy. However, there’s a problem. You will also get the sun light in summer which can heat up the house like an oven. So the energy you saved during winters times are spent in the summer to cool off. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
All it takes is to block the sunlight in the summer. You can do so by using overhang and shutters. Interior and exterior window shutters can help reduce heat gain in your home. Window shutters also offer weather protection and add more security to your house.
In a summer day, go outside and stay underneath the Sun for 5 minutes and you will feel the power the sun’ heat. The light the heat is solar energy. Most people know about active solar systems such as solar panels, solar power plants, but not the passive solar design.
You can use solar energy to do many things. Such as:
- Heat up your home using passive solar designs
- Generate your own electricity
- Even heat up the water in your swimming pool
The simplest and easiest way to use solar energy today is to line dry your clothes in the yard on on the balcony. You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars to start harvesting solar energy. Start today by lining your wet clothes up.
Solar power is the new old technology that people are using to help them save money. With the economy down and prices up, people are looking for new ways to save or even make money, which solar is a good option. With this, you can buy a pre build system that you piece together or you can make your own if you so inclined.
The savings on your electric bill can save you up to 100% of your bill if you get a large enough system. If you build a system that is bigger than you use, you can sell the power back to the electric company for a little bit of profit. This might vary state to state but most states are required to buy your power at market price.
The other plus of solar power is that you save the environment by using the natural power of the sun. If enough people use this way of power, we will all save a lot of money and cut down on carbon, and other emissions pumped into the air by power generation. So help yourself and the earth out and go green. Thank you and use solar power today.
Using passive solar design techniques to heat and cool your home can be both environmentally friendly and cost effective. Passive solar heating techniques include placing larger, insulated windows on south-facing walls and locating thermal mass, such as a concrete slab floor or a heat-absorbing wall, close to the windows. In many cases, your heating costs could be more than 50% lower than the cost of heating the same house that does not include passive solar design.
Passive solar design can also help reduce your cooling costs. Passive solar cooling techniques include carefully designed overhangs, windows with reflective coatings, and reflective coatings on exterior walls and the roof.
A passive solar house requires careful design and site orientation, which depend on the local climate. So, if you are considering passive solar design for new construction or a major remodeling, you should consult an architect familiar with passive solar techniques.
- Keep all south-facing glass clean.
- Make sure that objects do not block the sunlight shining on concrete slab floors or heat-absorbing walls.
Source: EERE, US Department of Energy
Solar water heating systems usually cost more to purchase and install than conventional water heating systems. However, a solar water heater can usually save you money in the long run.
How much money you save depends on the following:
* The amount of hot water you use
* Your system’s performance
* Your geographic location and solar resource
* Available financing and incentives
* The cost of conventional fuels (natural gas, oil, and electricity)
* The cost of the fuel you use for your backup water heating system, if you have one.
On average, if you install a solar water heater, your water heating bills should drop 50%–80%. Also, because the sun is free, you’re protected from future fuel shortages and price hikes.
If you’re building a new home or refinancing, the economics are even more attractive. Including the price of a solar water heater in a new 30-year mortgage usually amounts to between $13 and $20 per month. The federal income tax deduction for mortgage interest attributable to the solar system reduces that by about $3–$5 per month. So if your fuel savings are more than $15 per month, the solar investment is profitable immediately. On a monthly basis, you’re saving more than you’re paying.
Source: EERE, U.S. Department of Energy