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Passive Heating & Cooling Strategies | Earth Day 2017

passive heating and cooling tips for the home

You don’t need solar panels on your roof in order to harness solar energy. Passive solar home design or passive heating and cooling refers to strategic uses of sun, shade, and trees in order to produce a desired temperature and comfort level in any space.

Earth Day is on April 22. In the spirit of this year’s theme, environmental and climate literacy, Gold Medal Service offers you this guide to passive heating and cooling. These solutions are earth and energy friendly. There are ways to go green and save green!

Be smart with the sun — Passive Heating

Passive solar heating works with your current HVAC unit to create the perfect temperature for any given space in your home or building. With the introduction of these strategies, passive solar heating is capable of reducing your home or building’s dependence [PDF] on the furnace and other mechanical heating systems by 5-25%.

Windows — Keep your windows clean to allow more light in. Through windows and apertures, solar light comes into a space. With correct placement, a home can bring in a lot of heat on its own.

Other terms important to passive heating include: massing, orientation, and thermal mass. A building’s dimensions, its orientation and its material have a lot to do with your ability to heat with direct solar energy in any particular structure.

Cool off naturally — Passive Cooling

Utilizing these passive cooling strategies will help reduce your dependence on mechanical cooling, a costly comfort, especially in large homes or commercial buildings.

Natural Ventilation — Ventilation is an important aspect of any space for health reasons as well as comfort reasons. Without proper ventilation, a building is more likely to have poor indoor air quality. Basic natural ventilation, also called passive ventilation, is the use of outside air movements to cool and ventilate a home or building. Wind ventilation, the stack effect, and night purge ventilation are examples of natural ventilation strategies.

  • Wind Ventilation – This strategy is all about fresh air! Using the force of the wind to push air in and out of a space through the windows. Functional windows that open and even rooftop vents will allow for fresh air to funnel in and out of a space. It is often an intentional design and cost-effective. You can find extensive information on this strategy here.
  • Stack Effect – This strategy relies on air pressure to pull air through a building. Hot air rises due to lower air pressure than cold air. Purposeful ventilation can draw hot air out based on where windows and other natural ventilation openings are positioned. For diagrams of this strategy visit here.
  • Night Purge Ventilation – This strategy involves keeping windows closed during the day and open at night in order for the warm collected air to push out. To explore this strategy visit here.

Air-cooling – Two techniques are associated with this strategy: evaporative cooling and geothermal cooling.

Shades – Your shading strategy may include some of the following: overhangs, louvers, or vertical fins. In general, planned shading techniques can reduce the amount of solar heat let into your home or building. This means your air conditioner can take a breather while you find a naturally cool indoor space to relax.

Solar LandscapingLandscaping methods can also be used to produce shade that benefits the temperature of the interior spaces it surrounds. Passive solar landscaping for the purpose of energy efficiency and conservation is all about orientation and design. Work with professionals to determine the best placement, height, and solar orientation for the trees and bushes that will be saving you energy dollars.

Redirect – There are also solar window treatments that reflect the sun away from the home. Other methods of redirecting solar heat are light shelves and baffles.

Benefits of Passive Heating & Cooling

  • Better indoor air quality
  • Less dependence on mechanical heating and cooling systems
  • Ventilation
  • Lower energy costs
  • Energy efficiency
  • Renewable energy

If you are looking to build your own home or want to apply energy conscious strategies to your current residence, consider passive heating and cooling.

Renewable and desirable, these passive heating and cooling strategies are a smart way to bring regulated comfort into any space. They are not a replacement for a properly functioning HVAC unit, but they are conscious methods of energy conservation.

Happy Earth Day!

Read these articles for more information on saving money and reducing your environmental impact this spring and summer:


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