Going Solar: What “Degree” of Harnessing the Sun’s Energy is Right for You?
There are many ways to harness the sun’s rays, ranging from basic passive solar design to complete home energy systems. Whether you’re designing your dream log home or implementing modifications to your existing log home, here are some ideas to consider.
If you’re building a new log home, utilizing passive solar principles helps keep the interior warm in the winter and cool in the summer, with plenty of natural light. If the landscape permits, set the home running east to west. A square-shaped log home is ideal, because less of the exterior is exposed to the elements. Design the home’s layout so that the majority of windows are facing the south, with the rooms on the southern side “daylight” rooms, such as living room and kitchen. Taking advantage of deciduous trees on the south side is ideal, because they drop their leaves to let sun in during the winter, but provide shade in the summer.
Small Changes Make Big Differences
Solar-powered outdoor lanterns, security lights and even paving stones don’t require special attachments, and provide electricity-free lighting to your log home’s exterior. In addition, solar generators can be set up either inside or outside, and will give you enough energy per unit to power up small appliances, medical equipment, and cell phones. Finally, it may surprise you to learn that the sun’s rays can actually be used to cool your house in warmer months, by powering solar attic fans that don’t need special panels or hookups.
Getting Yourself Into Hot Water
A solar water heater can save significant money and energy. These heaters do require some kind of attached solar collector. Because of this, installation of the collector panel (most commonly on a roof) of the collector, along with the costs of replacing your current water heater, make a solar water heater something of an investment — but one that the U.S. Department of Energy estimates can be recouped within ten years.
If you decide you want a fully solar powered log home, you’ll first need to decide if you are going to still be plugged into a traditional utility grid, as a backup source of energy. (This is useful for log homes that don’t receive the recommended amount of sunlight in the winter.) The second option, going totally “off the grid” means that there is no utility backup system. In either case, your Timberhaven representative will work with you to make sure your log home meets local R-value requirements and that your roofline (or nearby array) is designed to accommodate several solar panels.