My Thoughts On Solar Energy

Collecting solar energy on buildings is a great idea. The Anasazi built wonderful passive solar homes hundreds of years ago.

ScreenHunter_256 Apr. 17 07.55

Here in Colorado, most houses are oriented the wrong direction (N-S) because people want to see the mountains out of their windows.  This is idiotic, because trees and other houses block their view anyway. It makes much more sense to have houses oriented E-W, which would keep the house warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

I am all for sensible use of solar energy. What I oppose is environmentally destructive uses, and people using solar as an excuse to wreck the energy infrastructure.

About stevengoddard

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24 Responses to My Thoughts On Solar Energy

  1. Gamecock says:

    I was taught houses should face 10 degrees NE, so that the back of the house would face SW, for the best sun exposure. The back of the house can be more easily styled to gather sun without offending the HOA.

  2. ccglea says:

    Excelent post. I built my house on an e-w orentation with lots of windows facing south. This gives me significant pasive solar heating in teh winter yet the eaves blok the sunlight in the summer. Anything to keep my Duke bill less high.

    Interisting enough because of “climate change” last summer, I used my pool heater more than my AC. Go figure.

  3. emsnews says:

    I designed and built a nice south facing passive solar house. The problem is this: the eaves which reduce solar penetration in summer are already cutting down on this when it is still well below freezing at night this ‘spring’.

    So I am burning firewood still!

  4. R Shearer says:

    A South facing driveway reduces the need to shovel snow.

  5. Hugh K says:

    But….but…how can a knuckle-dragging, flat-earth, Neanderthal denier remotely care about passive solar energy? WTF?!? The demedia constantly lectures us that same deniers don’t care about alternative energy. No doubt (insert sinister organ music here) Steve will be losing his *Big Oil* funding now. 50/50 sarc

    Reminiscent of President Bush’s’ Crawford green home the demedia pretends doesn’t exist. The Bushes installed a geothermal heating and cooling system for their home in Crawford, Texas, using only about a quarter of the electricity that standard heating and air-conditioning systems ordinarily consume.

    They had several holes drilled 300-feet deep, where the temperature is a constant 67 degrees. Pipes were then connected to a heat pump inside the house to circulate water into the ground, and then back up and through the house. The water, usually at 67 degrees, in turn heats their central Texas home in winter and cools it in summer. Also, the water for the outdoor pool is now heated with the same system. The moves proved so efficient, the Bushes evidently cancelled their plans to install more solar energy panels.

    President Bush also reportedly has installed a system that uses 25,000 gallons of rainwater storage, waste water collection from sinks and showers for irrigation for the flowers and shrubs surrounding the house, The wastewater travels through underground purifying tanks and then into a cistern.

    BTW – Gas prices are soaring. Why is the demedia so silent about that now when they were so vocal when Bush was Prez? Why isn’t Katie Couric still whining about the cost to fill her mini-van?

  6. Gail Combs says:

    MY house has the East west orientation. Unfortunately even though we did not run the central heat this winter and instead used space heaters only in occupied rooms our costs soared by over a 1/3 more.

    We are think of putting in Geo-thermal if we can scrape up the money. Ours would be horizontal in the pasture outside the front of the house. With the tractor and our backhoe attachment we can do most of the trenching ourselves and save a lot of money.

    • Pete T says:

      Gail,
      My horizontal ground source geothermal loop works great.
      I will design yours for free, and help you with attic insulation suggestions too.
      If you have good land and a backhoe, use your resources!

      • Gail Combs says:

        Pete T
        THANKS!

        I will take you up on that. We have to rebuild our little backhoe first though. We are in North Carolina and I was figuring a depth of ~ 6 feet for the loop. We already have a forced air heat pump system but it needs to be replaced anyway.

        This link has maps showing our area has 62F ground water (I am in the middle of the state) and the last graph (for Virgina) shows the winter to summer swing at 5 feet is not too bad so going to 12 feet would not be worth the expense. Since we normally keep the house at ~ 55 in winter and ~ 80 in the summer to keep the shock of working outdoors down to a minimum.

        Since we are retired money is a major concern. We were wiped out by a series of scamsters and theives so have no back-up funds beyond SS which pays the mortgage.

        • Pete T says:

          Great link Gail. It also happens to be a page on my website. Please go to the home page and send me an email. I can design for you for free as I pledged and correspond by email.

  7. John B., M.D. says:

    Fossil fuels ARE solar power (from millions of years ago).

  8. Andy DC says:

    My high rise condo faces north. Worst exposure imaginable. Usually when it is hot, the wind blows from the south or southwest and I get absolutely no air. During this last warm spell, it got very uncomfortable. But when it is very cold, the wind normally blows from the north and the place is very drafty.

    I suppose one advantage is we don’t get much sun, but when we do, it is very early in the morning during the hot time of the year.

  9. Anthony S says:

    The house I live in also has the E-W orientation; even better, there’s no windows on the north side, and all the bedrooms have east facing windows-really helps getting up in the morning.

  10. Send Al to the Pole says:

    I have fair orientation. I installed a high efficiency heat pump mated to a standard Natural Gas furnace. The thermostat is programmable and I’ve completed some super insulation – mainly under the house. My elec and gas are in one bill. I think with all changes, I should be under 200/mo in the dead of winter, but it rarely goes below 25 degrees here in Puget Sound. That is not just heating/cooling, but all gas and power usage.

    My heating guy was just here a few weeks ago, and said they can install a very low power fan that will save $400/yr. The fan itself wasn’t much more than that.

    If you want bang for your buck, this is the stuff – it comes in 16, 24, and 48″ widths. Cheap too.
    http://www.reflectixinc.com/
    I used the 48 and sealed up below all my joists under the house. I also wrapped all my heating ducts. In the attic, you should staple to the rafters just below the roof. It doesn’t overheat your shingles. And it can assist in directing your air flow to the ridge vent. But you need vent holes in every bay. My attic isn’t properly set up for it, so I’m not sure what I’ll do up there.

    A neighbor up here installed solar. He spent 25k and said it reduced his energy bill by 1/3. Hardly worth it.

    • Gail Combs says:

      Thanks for the link. I want to do something for my Attic. Insulate it and I get two more very big rooms since it is walk up with lots of head space.

  11. Eric Simpson says:

    Birds burned alive at Ivanpah CA solar project:

    “Although not analyzed in detail, there was also significant bat and insect mortality at the Ivanpah site, including monarch butterflies,” the report said. “It appears that Ivanpah may act as a ‘mega-trap,’ (original emphasis) attracting insect-eating birds, which are incapacitated by solar flux injury, thus attracting predators and creating an entire food chain vulnerable to injury and death.”

    Solar flux is the intense radiation coming off the reflecting mirrors. At Ivanpah, the radiation is so intense it creates what look like small clouds around the boilers at the top of the project’s three 459-foot-tall solar towers. These clouds appear to be attracting the insects which in turn attract the birds.

    http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2014/04/07/birds-going-smoke-brightsource-energys-ivanpah-project/7448299/

  12. gator69 says:

    Like others on this thread, I built a very efficient passive solar home and upper the ante by putting on a metal roof, 2X6 construction and more layers of insulation than most people have even thought of. It works beautifully and used zero rare earth minerals.

    • Morgan says:

      You must live in a tropical region. Around here 2 x 6 construction is minimum code and people sometimes go for 2 x 12 and R 56 in attic floors.

      Solar heating in impossible here. No sun, too cold. Why is it so cold? No sun.

      • gator69 says:

        Nope, nowhere near the tropics. I live in the US, where virtually all homes are built with 2X4 construction. I also own a 2 stage professional grade snow thrower, it gets cold here, and was once covered by glaciers. But we have sunshine. 😉

  13. tom0mason says:

    More green thinking?
    Solar energy is non-renewable, where will you find another one when this one is all used up?
    🙂

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