Category Archives: solar heat

Winterizing ideas…

It’s only mid-october here, but we already have the heat set to come on while we sleep — just to keep the house at 55F! It is COLD here for October, and there is actually snow forecast for saturday, which is very unusual.

So, I am already looking around the home getting ready to winterize. Generally, I put plastic on all the windows to keep more heat in, especially the big sliding glass door sets we have in our dining room. But, this year we are thinking of putting our house on the market (after we finish up a few small home improvements, like patching old holes in the ceiling!) SO I don’t think I can put plastic on the windows because it just doesn’t look that great, and might get people thinking that the house is too drafty to buy… (any thoughts?)

Instead, I have gone out and invested in some faux silk, lined curtains to hang in the dining room, which I hope will work similarly. Our other windows are quite airtight, so I am not as worried about heat loss there…

I am also scraping plans we had to make a small external solar heater, b/c it would have to be right by our front walk for optimal sun exposure, and let’s face it, it just wasn’t going to look too pretty 🙁 But I still have hopes to turn my southern facing window box by my kitchen sink into a solar heater. How you ask? By installing a plexiglass sheet (removable with small screws) over the inner opening, with a small gap at both the top and bottom. I would fill bottom of the window box with an attractive layer of dark rocks to attract and store heat. Natural convection will draw the cold air in the bottom and push the warm air out the top, which will create some nice heat for the kitchen/dining area during the day, I hope. I tried it out last year with some impermanent plastic sheeting and it seemed to work rather well.

Solar Heating for the Home

Every year about this time I begin looking at solar options for our home. With visions of tax returns and sunny days looming in my head, its only natural. In the past I’ve focused on solar power, which we haven’t been able to afford — Even the small arrays haven’t been cheap enough.

This year, I’m looking into the possibilities of a passive solar collector/warm air heater, which we could build for a few hundred dollars, and/or a solar cooker. While a solar cooker is a very cool idea, it’s the solar heater that I am most enamoured of. The idea is to build a shallow, big box made with corrugated fiberglass (like on greenhouses) and black paint inside. Nail it to your south wall or roof, and let it collect the sun’s rays. A small vent into your home, equipped with a blower fan, is all you need to bring the sun’s heat into the house. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Well, here’s the thing. We live on the east side of a mountain. To the the south and north of us, we are bordered by a nature preserve: lots and lots of trees. In December the sun hits our property directly for about one hour. Today, we are getting a couple hours of sun — this sun is all filtered through the naked trees. Not too good for solar collection. But this morning I looked up at the roof, and saw that although the ground around our one-story house is getting minor rays, the roof is high enough to be getting full sun.

So I think the solar collector may be a go! At the very least, it could definitely heat our house in October, March and April, when we usually burn the wood stove several hours a day to take the chill of at night and in the morning.