Zero-Cost Passive Solar in Visual Studio .NET

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Passive solar is the most simplistic and yet overlooked form of energy not just solar energy, but all energy even though passive solar energy is actually the most reliable form of energy. In passive solar energy systems, the sun s energy is used without any mechanical systems or human intervention. Today, humans consume less fresh energy in the form of sunlight and more stale energy in the form of fossil fuels, than at any time in history. We have ignored the fuel that is abundant and free sunlight and have subsidized our own demise (Figure 5-1). The solution is simple: we can open the blinds (Figure 5-2). We do not need to spend tens of thousands of dollars redesigning our homes, because that would waste energy. We need to take advantage of what we have and improve our homes in renewable, energy-efficient ways. Replace and buy new when items are severely inefficient or in need of replacement from normal use. And when you buy, do so wisely. You can design your home with solar energy in mind or make changes in your home to make the most of this free source of energy. This chapter discusses some great passive solar ideas about what you might be able to do in your own home. You will be surprised at the modest changes you can make that can dramatically impact your home, your comfort, and your pocketbook.
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FIGURE 5-1 Life energy
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FIGURE 5-2 Natural sunlight
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Passive solar homes are nothing new. The home shown in Figure 5-3 does not offer any of today s modern amenities, but it does demonstrate two great features that you can use today in your passive solar home. This ancient home was built into the side of a cliff, and the wall inside the cave was built by humans. The wall shelters the occupants from the harsh sun of the day, while letting moderate sunlight into the home. The same wall
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FIGURE 5-3 Ancient passive solar home
http://www.nature.nps.gov/GEOLOGY/parks/gicl/images/gicl_dwell.jpg
collects heat during the day and then releases that heat in the evening. This simple feature is used extensively in passive solar today, as it was thousands of years ago. Today we use bricks, concrete, glass, and wood to build our homes (Figure 5-4). The sun heats these materials during the day and the stored heat is released in the home in the evenings. We use building materials, as our ancestors did, to control the environments in our homes.
FIGURE 5-4 Passive solar today
http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/RENEW/Solar/images/SpaceThumb.jpg
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The Big and Small Pictures
On a global scale, passive solar is a part of the global warming problem (Figure 5-5). Heat energy enters the atmosphere, heats the Earth, and then radiates back into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, because of the layer of greenhouse gasses lingering above the Earth s surface, the heat has nowhere to escape. The trapped heat then increases the temperature of the Earth every day, as more thermal energy is supplied by the sun. Passive solar heating, whether in a home or an actual greenhouse (Figure 5-6), works in a similar way. In a greenhouse, passive solar light and heat are allowed to enter the space. The quantity of heat and light that passes through is based on square feet of available sunlight and the angle of the sun. Both light and heat can be controlled, via shade or by venting or fan-cooling the greenhouse. Like a greenhouse, a home can be configured to capture sunlight (Figure 5-7) and its energy.
Building a Passive Solar Home
The first two considerations when you re planning to build a passive solar home are the climate and the solar altitude of the area where you want to build (Figure 5-8). A passive solar home can be built to accommodate average or severe climates. The solar altitude concerns angles of the
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