How much do we truly know about passive solar and how it works? Basically, passive solar is a design incorporated into the construction of a building, aimed at the accumulating solar energy and distributing it into the home as heat during winter or the cold season. During the heat of summer, it also regulates heat and prevents it from reaching excessive levels. As mentioned, it is worked into the design of the home or the building before construction has even started, so it’s not something you can add on later as a building improvement and structural addition.
Passive Solar Design
The first consideration when thinking of integrating a passive solar energy system into the building is its general location and design with respect to the sun. How much of the sun’s solar power would the house be exposed to in a specific location? Will the angle of the roof and the building, as a whole, enable it to have full advantage of the sun’s solar energy? Geography plays a significant role in any building design with passive solar energy in mind, and this is apparent in how homes in the northern hemisphere are normally built to face the south in order to get more than enough amount of sunlight.
The interior of the home will also have to be carefully thought over, especially the structural relationships among the ceiling, walls, and the windows. They should be designed to be flexible in coping with changes in temperature as well as the seasons. How much insulation do the ceiling and roof provide to regulate heat and cold? Are the walls as capable of warding off the cold and keeping the heat in without trapping it to high levels?
During summer, the sun is at its peak, so having a sloping roof and an overhang or wide awnings on windows will provide much needed shade and protection against heat when it gets too warm. However, during winter, when sunlight is limited, tall vertical windows built facing towards the south will ensure that the home still gets enough sunlight.
Other Important Considerations in Passive Design
I’ve already mentioned about insulation earlier in passing. Now let us dig deeper. In order to allow circulation of air currents inside the building, the walls and the roof have to be designed with vents. Aside from vents, certain thermal materials will have to be fabricated into the building itself so as to regulate heat accordingly, as the seasons and temperature changes. In this way, warm air will be kept within the interiors of the building during the cold season, but during the warmth of summer it will also be able to escape easily instead of being trapped inside.
Many countries in the world now recognize the benefits of using passive solar techniques in providing heating. Even the homes in Scotland, where it is particularly cold and rainy most days of the year, have been found to derive 15% of their heating from solar energy. If this trend continues, not only will it slow down the depletion of other energy sources currently being used, it will also lower the current costs being personally spent by people on energy consumption. It is a global concern, so it follows that this solution also has a global impact.