Here in Corpus Christi, solar heating can be a viable alternative to reduce monthly HVAC expenses. Since the Coastal Bend receives ample days of full sunshine every year, converting that free energy source to clean, efficient heating and cooling is a viable alternative. Energy from the sun may be collected and diverted directly to warm the house, or it may be converted to electricity, then utilized to power an electric furnace.
Here are three ways to use the sun’s energy for solar heating:
Passive Solar Systems
This most-basic heating method has been utilized for centuries. Passive solar heating is the process of situating and constructing a house to absorb the sun’s heat and retain it as long as possible. An example is placing the majority of windows in a house facing the south to admit as much solar heat as possible. Specific construction materials such as brick, stone, and ceramics also contribute to passive heating, as these materials absorb ample solar energy in daylight hours, then release it slowly to produce warmth at night.
Solar Thermal Heat
Rooftop collector panels integrate tubing that circulates a glycol/water mix, which effectively absorbs the solar heat. As the panels focus sunlight on the tubing grid, the temperature of the circulating fluid may increase to more than 200 degrees. This heated fluid is pumped through standard house radiators or radiant floor systems to warm individual rooms. In a climate with ample sunlight, these systems can reduce heating costs as much as 60%.
Photovoltaic solar panels convert sunlight directly to electrical power. In addition to other standard household uses, this power may run an electric furnace and reduce heating costs in the winter. Utility companies commonly offer “net metering” plans, allowing residential customers with solar panels to feed surplus electricity back into the grid during daylight hours when panels are at full output. Credit for this solar power provides an offset that reduces the cost of utility electricity used after sunset.
For more about the cost savings and other benefits of solar heating, contact the professionals at CCAC.