Solar Air Heating – Part 1 – Another Type of Solar Energy

Concerned about winter heating costs? We are.

Through our various energy conservation activities our home is as air tight as it will likely get.

We already have a high-efficiency furnace that is relatively new (about 5 years old).

Extra attic insulation? Check.

ENERGY STAR windows? Check.

Exterior wall gaps sealed? Check.

And on and on.

Last year we consumed 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas to heat our home, cook our food (on the barbecue) and heat our water. In a 1,700 square foot bungalow with a finished basement, I think that is pretty good. For those of you with natural gas furnaces, how much did you consume in your home over the last 12 months? Just check your natural gas bill.

I want to do more.

I want a device that (A) is simple to both install and understand, (B) which consumes negligible to zero non-renewable resources when operating (C) generates zero polluting emissions when operating, that will (D) help heat our home to reduce our home heating costs and natural gas consumption.

I want a solar air heater.

What is a solar air heater? Do you have a room in your home that has one or more south facing windows? In the summer, do you pull down the drapes in that room (assuming you do not have an exterior solar blind on the outside of that window icon smile Solar Air Heating   Part 1   Another Type of Solar Energy ) to prevent the sun from overheating the air?

What about in the winter? During a sunny day in the winter does that room with the south facing window (s) actually become warmer or much warmer than other rooms in the house?

That is the effect of direct sun light passing through the south facing window to heat the air in the room.

And that is what a solar air heater does.

A solar air heater, also called a solar space heater or a solar heat collector, is nothing more than a device which is installed against a south facing wall or on a south facing roof top.  It has see through plastic on the outside to let the sun enter and heat the air in the space inside the unit.

A solar air heater has two holes on the back. One of the holes is used to bring air from inside the house or building into the unit to be heated by the sun. The second of the holes is used to send the heated air back into the house or building.

These units have a fan on the inside or if not typically just outside of the hole in the back of the unit that pushes heated air back into the house or building.

Do these solar air or space heating devices really work? I mean, do they really heat sufficient amount of air drawn from inside the house and pushed back into the house?

We will find out after we install the unit we just purchased.

What do others have to say about whether these devices actually are beneficial?

Well, Natural Resources Canada provides grant money to owners of commercial, industrial and institutional buildings who install accredited solar space heating devices. You can read the details of the list of accepted solar air heating devices, both unglazed and glazed air heating collectors as part of the ecoENERGY Retrofit program here. They still do not provide any ecoENERGY Retrofit grants for residential home owners. Personally, I don’t think that is fair. However, I digress.

Here is another government site, this one by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Program describing some primer type information on solar air heating.

Next time, we describe the solar air heating device we have purchased and plan to install in our home.

To continue to the next article in this series, simply select this link to Part 2.

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