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10 Ways to Make Use of Passive Solar

Harnessing solar energy does not mean you need photovoltaic panels on your roof and technological solutions.  There are many ways to design passive solar into a home that will allow you to lower your heating and cooling costs year-round, and make your home more environmentally friendly.

What is Passive Solar?

Podcast, Audio, Passive SolarPassive solar means using the building’s windows, walls, and floors to collect, store and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter, and rejecting solar energy (heat) in the summer.  It is called “passive” because it does not use mechanical means to distribute heat, but rather takes advantage of natural convection, radiation, and air flow.

Is it worth it?

If you’re adding energy-efficient features into an older home (built before 1993) that currently has little insulation, less energy-efficient windows, and non-EnergyStar appliances, you may be able to reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 50-60%.  That savings will pay for itself year after year, and many of the passive solar design features also add aesthetically to the house and increase the house’s market value (see “Going Green Can Add Value to Your Home”).

passive solar design, going green, home improvement, heating and cooling10 Ways To Incoprporate Passive Solar

If you are not building a new home from scratch, you may not be able to take advantage of all of the suggestions below, but, the more you can do, the more you’ll save.

  1. Use wide overhangs on your house to shield the house from the sun in summer. Western or eastern-facing windows are particularly vulnerable to overheating in summer, so these should be shaded using overhangs and large leaf-bearing shade trees that shed their leaves in the fall.
  2. Have south-facing windows that have an unobstructed view of the sun (no big trees or tall buildings in the way).  Keep these windows clean and keep the drapes, blinds, or shutters open during the cooler months while the sun is shining.  In the warmer months, place a removable reflective film on these windows or keep the drapes, blinds or shutters closed to block the sun.  Remember: if light can get in, so can radiant heat.
  3. Capture and store the sun’s heat in thermal masses inside the house.  This can be concrete, brick, stone, or tile which is used on walls or floors.  The thermal mass absorbs heat from sunlight during the heating season, and absorbs heat from the air during cooling season.  You can easily create a thermal mass by having a brick or stone fireplace which extends up the entire wall, or adding tile or decorative concrete flooring in the room containing the best sun exposure.
  4. Take advantage of the “chimney effect” (natural convection). Since heat rises, install operable skylights (skylights that open) in the upper-most areas of the house, such as an upper floor or vaulted ceiling.
  5. Use clerestory and transom windows or light tubes to let natural light in year-round, so you minimize the use of electric lights. Convert all lights in the house to LED bulbs, which radiate far less heat.
  6. An open floor plan takes advantage of passive solar the best, as do open stairwells and atria.
  7. Install EnergyStar-certified appliances and fans throughout the home, and energy-efficient double or triple glazed windows. Casement windows offer the best air flow.
  8. Add insulation to your attic.  This will help year-round (see our post “5 of the Best HVAC Investments You Can Make”).
  9. Make your roof reflective with a light color paint, or by using reflective paint, shingles, or tiles. Roofs receive the majority of solar radiation delivered to a house, so a cool roof will dramatically cut air-conditioning bills.
  10. Allow the landscape design to work in your favor. Use evergreen hedges and shrubs as windbreaks. Use deciduous trees (trees that drop their leaves in fall) near the house, to provide shade in summer and allow light in in winter.

The real joy comes in living in an energy-efficient, eco-friendly, passive solar house that is not only beautiful, but saves you money every single day.

 

If you live in the Nashville or surrounding area, Interstate AC Service can help with all your heating and cooling needs.  Call on us at 615-832-8500.  We're here for you!

Important Tips & Advice

 

 

You often don't think about your heating or air-conditioning system until something goes wrong. But there is so much you can do to help keep your system from breaking down. We regularly post information to help you learn what you can do to keep your system running, to save money and energy.  Search our many posts, videos, and podcasts, for valuable information that is never a sales pitch. Subscribe to receive an email when something new is posted, so you won’t miss any important tips.

Choosing a Repair Company

Whether you’re talking about heating or cooling, repairing or replacing a system, you want a company that can advise you reliably based on what is in your best interest, not based on what is convenient or what earns them the most money (commissions). We'll help you choose the best solution to fit your needs. Check out our many posts at HVAC News You Can Use and our podcasts.

Going Green

We're concerned about the environment and know all the latest technologies - such as geothermal systems, LED lights, and smart thermostats - that can reduce energy and put more "green" in your pocket!  We've provided HVAC systems in certified LEED buildings and written many posts on ways to Go Green.

The Sign of Service

We are a repair company performing a full range of commercial and residential heating, air conditioning, energy management and comfort products service, maintenance, and installation. We are a locally-owned company serving Nashville-Davidson County and the surrounding counties including Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Sumner, Robertson, and Cheatham.

Who We Are

Our service technicians are fully trained and experienced.  We can tackle the most complicated system to the simplest of systems – from large commercial plants to single-family homes.  Our ownership group of Eddie Hutton, Tony Anderson, Roger Eldridge,  Swaney Powers and Alan Seilbeck have over 125 years combined experience as leaders in the HVAC industry.

Dispatch

We are proud of our dispatchers that respond to your telephone call. When your system is down they make things happen. Our trucks are loaded with most parts needed for a quick repair. You can call day and night 7 days a week. Our normal weekday hours are 7:00AM to 5:00PM. Click on the button below to schedule a service call online. Emails and forms can only be answered weekdays from 7-5.”  

615-832-8500 Online Service Call

Maintenance

Did you know you should service your HVAC on a regular schedule – just like you would your car?  We have specialized maintenance programs to ensure the clean, energy efficient and safe operation of your HVAC systems.  This helps minimize service interruptions/breakdowns and maximize your equipment's lifespan.  All maintenance contract customers are assigned a primary technician that will get to know your facility and equipment and will treat it like his own.  You’ll receive discounts on repairs or new installations, and get priority service when it is cold or hot outside and you need service promptly.  Plus, maintenance contract customers are never charged overtime rates for emergency services after-hours, weekends or holidays. We’ll teach you how to save on maintenance costs by showing you things you can do yourself and when you need a technician. Here are some good posts:  Repair vs. Replace, Things to Try Before Calling for Service, Springtime Tips that Pay Off.

Commercial

Our team takes on HVAC projects for office, school, retail and industrial facilities. Check out these case studies:

Replacement of a 250-ton Cooling Tower

Ductless HVAC at Brentwood Middle School