If your home's air pollution problems cannot be completely solved by eliminating and isolating sources of pollutants, you will need to install some kind of air filter. Whether that is a small, portable unit for occasional use or a large, whole-house ventilation system depends on how bad the problem is.
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It is one of life's cruel ironies that the most common heating system in the USA is also one of the least environmentally friendly. Forced-air heating installations are present in over 60% of homes in the country. Of course, some are better than others – these systems have heat generated by solar thermal systems, heat pumps, and furnaces of all types (oil-fired, gas-fired, electric, or wood).
If your home needs air filters to remove airborne pollutants, you should consider very carefully which model you buy. It needs to be big enough, efficient enough, and also good enough to remove problem particles if a home's inhabitants are asthmatic or allergic.
Regardless of what kind of backup heating system you put in your passive solar home – forced-air, radiant floor, baseboard hot-water, or something else – you're going to need a source of heat. And that means a high-efficiency boiler or furnace.
That title might fill you with apprehension and, in many ways, you'd be right: analyzing such a complex thing as a home's energy performance without using software is a daunting task. But it is possible. There are even several books which include worksheets and detailed descriptions of how to build a more accurate assessment than the one we'll outline here.
Holistic or integrated home design is the art and science of creating homes which take full advantage of the natural resources available – notably light and heat – while providing a comfortable, pleasant living environment. Like all things, it has its advantages and disadvantages.
Two alternatives to standard windows are clerestory windows – those high-up windows that sit between two levels of external roofing – and skylights. They both have their uses in passive solar design, though you have to be careful with their effects on light and heating.
The ideal layout for a home built around passive solar concepts is a simple rectangle. Not only does this ensure that the long axis of the building gathers as much solar energy as possible (assuming it faces true south, of course), but it also limits the amount of summer heat gathered by the east- and west-facing sides.