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The Simplicity Of Passive Solar Energy Homes

April 25, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 159

Today, solar energy is often referred to as an alternative source of energy. But there was a time in our world when passive solar energy really was the primary source of heat in the homes.

Many of the energy sources that we are so fond of today such as oil and gas were nowhere to be found in homes two hundred years ago. On the other hand, passive solar systems were being used in ancient Greece as long as 2500 years ago. In a way, the triumph of oil and heat as primary heating sources for the home is basically a triumph of commerce over nature. After all, it is hard for a utility company make money from solar heated homes.

But, when you look at the history of passive solar heating systems, you wonder why civilized societies ever let other heating systems overtake it. So how was this type of passive energy used in the past?

A perfect example can be found with the Greeks who would orient their major streets to run east and west. This orientation allowed the homes to have their maximum possible exposure to the rays of the sun.

The next major development was by the Romans who encouraged home builders to use clear glass in their homes. In the early days of glass windows, the windows were typically colored. The simple act of using clear glass allowed more sunlight, and hence more heat, to enter the home. But, Romans were energy efficient in other ways as well. They often built large portions of their cities underground. This allowed homes and structures to take advantage of the insulation of the ground in preserving heat in the winter, and preventing overheating in the summer.

Builders of homes today realize that homes with a lot of glass will automatically collect lots of solar energy. That's why in a typical solar home you will probably have a structure with lots of windows and few solar panels.

In the past, the primary challenge in building a passive solar family home with lots of windows was in cold weather environments where the windows did not provide sufficient insulation during the winter months. But, today, the U-values of windows have been lowered immensely.

What is the U-value? Simply, it is a value that measures the heat transfer rate of a window. The higher the U-value, the less capable it is of retaining heat in the home. The lower the U-value, the better it will be at retaining heat in the home. The advances in improving the U-value of windows has aided tremendously in highlighting the viability of building passive solar homes.

For additional articles on solar power advances such as solar panel installation and solar powered light, please visit our web site.

Source: EzineArticles
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