Home Energy Conservation and Passive Solar Heating

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Energy Conservation: First Step in Passive Heating and Cooling

In a passive heating or cooling design conservation of heat or coolness is very important. Once you have gone into the effort of capturing heat (or eliminating it as the case may be) if you do not conserve what you have gained you are back to square one and the heating or cooling that you have procured is lost. For this reason, it is necessary to make sure that your house is properly sealed and insulated before you set out to install any passive or otherwise solar driven heating and cooling system. The harsher the climate that you are contending with, the more important conservation will be.

Heat is lost or gained mainly through conduction and convection. Convection refers to the infiltration of air through cracks and openings in the building. When convection occurs, indoor air moves out of a building causing outdoor air to be drawn back into the building in its place.This is the first area of heating and cooling conservation that you need to address when you set about to improve the heat conservation in a building. The cracks and leaks in a building can account for as much as 50% of the total cost of heating the building.

Conductive heat loss or gain, on the other hand, occurs as heat travels through the building materials themselves from the exterior to the interior surfaces of the building or vise versa. Conductive heat transfers always move from the zone of higher temperature to the zone of lower temperature. Approximately one third of the heat in an average home is lost through walls, ceilings, and floors that are moderately insulated.

Windows bring about considerable conductive heat losses in buildings. There are a number of ways that this loss can be addressed.

Home Energy Conservation: Easy, Easier and Easiest

Simplest conservation measures include:

  • Lowering thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during day, and to 55 degrees during the night
  • Closing chimney dampers and blocking off unused fireplaces
  • Shutting off unused rooms
  • Wearing sweaters

Cheap conservation measures include:

  • Caulking and weatherstripping windows and doors
  • Sealing all cracks in the interior shell of the building, check closets and hidden areas
  • Adding sheets of plastic to windows
  • (For cooling) Adding shades, awnings and trellises to block out sun

Economical conservation measures include:

  • Adding more insulation to attics, walls and foundations
  • Add storm windows and doors or replace older windows with tight new ones
  • Cover windows with night insulation
  • Add a vapor barrier
  • Add an entrance vestibule to exterior doorways

Home energy conservation will save you a lot of money even if you do not make it to the installation of a passive (or otherwise) solar heating system. The energy savings that you could bring about through these type of measures could be equal to over half of the current energy that is being used by your home. And, if you really went all out, the savings could be even more than this.


Plarski, Jan, Ed.:Bossong, Ken and Jan Pilarski.(1982) “Residential Conservation Retrofit”. Passive Solar Retrofit for Homeowners and Apartment Dwellers. Citizens’ Energy Project, Wash D.C. report series no.137" Home owner’s Guide to Passive Solar: An Overview"

This post is part of the series: Passive Heating and Cooling

Passive Heating and Cooling Technology uses the natural movement of energies in and around a building to heat and cool the building. By using the principals of passive heating and cooling you can economically eliminate most of the external energy that is required to heat or cool that building.

  1. Passive Heating And Cooling
  2. How Does a Passive Solar Heating System Work? Direct, Indirect & Isolated Gain
  3. Home Energy Conservation: Step One to Passive Solar
  4. Save Your Heating and Cooling Energy by Controling Convective Heat Loss and Cooling Losses
  5. Window Weather Stripping for Your Passive Solar House
  6. Door Weather Stripping for Energy Conservation
  7. Save Your Heating and Cooling Energy by Controling Conductive Energy Losses