It's easy to generate thermal energy during the summer. There's less demand for hot baths, clothes drying and space heating so you can just use a solar thermal water heating system. Come November, it's more difficult – especially in most of North America (like the Northeastern parts of the US and Canada).
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Central air conditioning has proven to be the biggest, least efficient load in any home. It should not be used in off-grid homes. The ideal method of cooling is preventing hot air from getting into your home in the first place. This can be achieved with proper insulation and shading from the sun in summer, to prevent the home from overheating. Open your windows at night for a cool breeze through your home.
A simple concept for solar heating is the use of cladding material on south-, west- or east-facing walls. Small gaps enable air to flow in from outside. In the daytime, air passes across the solar panels as well as along their inner surfaces, absorbing the sun's rays to warm the air, causing it to rise. This hot air is drawn into the ventilation system of the building, reducing the load on the heating system. On hot days, such systems can heat air by as much as 30-50°F (17-28°C), depending on the rate of flow.
When fuel prices rise, everyone goes on the alert. No one was concerned when oil prices were low, using it freely for their cars and homes even though early '70s automobiles were comparable in size with tanker ships that carry Saudi Arabian crude to North America! Home design and construction were carried out with little consideration for energy efficiency or fuel consumption.
Solar energy is free, renewable and non-polluting, so why isn't it used everywhere today? Most people have the same implementation questions: Do you have to change your lifestyle with a passive solar system? Are there concerns with its variability and is it worthwhile? Are you better off going with a traditional heating system? Solar-based living does not necessarily mean a house full of glass and complicated electronics. There are some simple guidelines that will enable your home to enjoy the sun's energy to the fullest.
Heat your house with renewable fuels
The most obvious response to renewable home-heating fuels is firewood, but many developing nations do not have a good supply of wood. Biodiesel is an alternative renewable clean home fuel for heating and transport.
Wood burning is not simply putting a log in your fireplace or using a refurbished wood stove to heat your home. Only stoves that employ advanced technology can burn wood cleanly, efficiently and over long periods. The types of wood-burning stoves that are high-tech are:
Wood Pellet and Corn Stoves
There are both indoor and outdoor wood boilers and furnaces. Outdoor boilers are really big wood stoves with a tank of antifreeze solution or water surrounding them. The burning wood emits heat to the fluid, giving hot water and energy to warm the house. The boiler temperature is regulated by a home control system. Most include an alarm for re-stocking. Furnaces provide warm air; they come as indoor units only.