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Passive solar
Passive solar
The advantages of using the sun's energy to heat your home are clear: Solar energy is economical, renewable and environmentally friendly.

Passive solar heating -- designing a home to maximize its ability to collect and retain heat from the sun -- can greatly reduce home heating bills.

Of course, the effectiveness of passive solar heating depends heavily on the local climate, and it is not capable of replacing a conventional heating system altogether.

In most cases, passive solar heating is something to consider when designing a new home and may not be the best option for homeowners looking to save on heating bills in the short term.

Still, the long-term economic and environmental benefits of solar energy are significant.

Site orientation, the positioning of a house to maximize its exposure to sunlight, is the most basic component of passive solar heating.

Large, south-facing windows, plus floor and wall materials specially made to absorb and hold heat, are the other fundamental parts of passive solar design.

During the day, the windows allow sunlight to warm the floors and walls which naturally release that heat when the temperature begins to fall.

NEXT: Active solar

Last updated August 22 2008: 11:56 AM ET
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