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How to Make Passive Solar Elements Support Your Air Conditioner to save Money and Energy

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When many people think of passive solar homes, they think of homes with low heating bills. However, you can use your passive solar elements to keep your home cool as well. Whether you are designing a new home or trying to make your air conditioning costs cheaper on your existing home, here are some tips to help you out:

1. Install Window Awnings and Window Coverings

If you have large north-facing windows, they should draw in as much sunlight as possible during the winter when the sun is slightly lower. However, in the summer, the sun sits higher in the sky, and its rays are not directly in line with these windows. That fact allows these windows to heat your home in the winter without overheating it in the summer.

You can heighten this effect by adding awnings outside above your windows—they allow the sun to be even lower in the sky without hitting your windows. As a result, you won't have to run your air conditioner as often. You can thwart the sun's rays even more by adding window coverings to your passive solar windows.

2. Embrace the Properties of Thermal Mass in Your Home

In the winter, sun goes through your passive solar windows, and it is stored in a thermal mass such as a concrete stone floor. During the night, when there is no sunlight coming in, heat stored in the thermal mass is released into the rest of the home to keep it warm.

In the summer, however, the opposite effect occurs. Instead of soaking up the sun's heat, the thermal mass absorbs the heat in the room. That lowers the air temperature, thus reducing the burden on your air conditioner.

3. Lighten Your Roof

Keep in mind your home does not just absorb heat from windows. It also absorbs heat through the roof and walls. Ideally, you want a large tree shading your roof, but you can also reduce the amount of heat it absorbs by choosing roofing tiles in light colours.

4. Increase Your Ventilation

When you have a professional install air conditioning in your home, explain that you want ventilation that will help to support the passive solar elements in your home.

For instance, in addition to the regular vents you install with an air conditioner, design solar chimneys that release hot air outside and cool towers that draw cool air into the house.

5. Consider Active Solar Elements

You can use passive solar elements to keep your home cool and reduce your air conditioner use, but you can also offset your air conditioner use with active solar elements. For example, you can install solar panels on the roof and use those to power your air conditioner and other electrical elements.

For more information, contact Neil Hewitt Electrical & Air Conditioning