Energy Conservation: The First Part to Passive Solar Heating or Cooling
The first part of Passive solar design is aimed at conserving the heating or cooling that a building has achieved. The actual means by which heating or cooling is achieved is secondary to this. Conservation measures alone can save 40% to 60% of the average building's heating and cooling energy use and are generally less expensive to install than the actual heating or cooling system itself.
Heating and cooling conservation measures include:
- Sealing all cracks especially in the interior surfaces of the house
- Weather-stripping and/or caulking all doors and windows
- Ensuring adequate insulation of walls, ceilings and floors
- Adding tightly fitting insulating curtains or blinds for the windows
- Earth-berming the house
- Introducing shrubs and trees for shading or as wind-breaks
- Adding entrance vestibules to doors which lead into and outside of the building.
In a mild climate that does not have enormous temperature extremes energy conservation is not as important as it is in a more extreme climate.
Climates that become either very hot, very cold, or both will provide you with significant savings in energy if you employ heroic energy saving measures in your house. Even in a sunny climate, energy losses will outstrip energy gains by solar means if adequate energy saving measures are not applied.
In a cool mild climate that does not have a lot of sunshine, insulation and energy conservation will be very important in energy saving designs. In this type of climate, solar energy may not be able to provide as much heating as it would be able to provide in a sunnier local, but, the energy conservation measures will mean that the other heating technologies which will have to be employed, are employed at a maximum efficiency and therefor minimized.
In climates where temperature extremes are experienced, energy conservation will need to include energy storage means. In otherwords, heat storage provided by water tanks, by massive construction such as with interior brick, stone or concrete walls, or by the use of heat storing rock pits will be needed. In a mild or a cool climate energy storage is not needed to the same degree.
Bossong, Ken and Jan Pilarski. Passive Solar Retrofit for Homeowners and Apartment Dwellers. Citizens' Energy Project, Wash D.C. 1982. report series no.137" Home owner's Guide to Passive Solar: An Overview"
Anderson, Bruce and Malcolm Wells. Passive Solar Energy Second Edition, The Homeowner's Guide to Natural heating and Cooling. Brick House Publishing Company, Amherst, New Hampshire, 1994