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Solar PSA: A South-Facing Window Is Already a Solar Collector

by gmoke Wed Aug 10th, 2011 at 02:38:54 PM EST

Here's my latest Solar PSA on how a south-facing window is already a solar collector:

"Any window that sees direct sunlight is a solar collector.  You can learn how to use that free energy to make your home more comfortable and secure.  Caulk and seal the window against drafts.  Install storm windows on the exterior, interior, or both.  Cover the window at night with an insulating curtain to prevent conduction, convection, and radiative heat loss.  A valence above the window will stop night-time drafts and reduce condensation.  A sunny window can double as a greenhouse for starting seedlings or growing house plants.  Expand the solar space below, above, or beside the window with a windowbox solar air or water heater.    You can even design a living system to provide fresh vegetables and fish year round while producing space heat, cleaning the air, and reducing waste.  A south-facing window is already a solar collector.  Learn how to use it."

I made the following four 30 second public service announcements for public access TV around 1991.  They served as intro and outro to the videos of the Boston Area Solar Energy Association lectures I shot and cablecast on Cambridge Community TV for a few years. There is still a tape archive of all those talks by national and world class energy experts that could be digitized if anyone was interested.

30 seconds of solar history (based on the book A Golden Thread by John Perlin and Ken Butti and independent research) along with modern, working examples, often hidden in plain sight.  

Energy sources broken down by btu (though I'm not quite sure my math is correct).

These two trick questions were collaborations with the polymathic Ed Hill.

I made another set of 15 second spots back in the late 1970s and early 1980s for the Urban Solar Energy Association, the precursor of BASEA which hosted workshops and solar barnraisings as well as monthly lectures and talks.  Those PSAs went to the local TV stations and, if memory serves, two channels ran them at least once.  There may even be a 2 inch tape somewhere in my archives.  That was the first south-facing window is already a solar collector PSA.  The others were "A south-facing porch can be a sunspace or greenhouse.  Learn how to use it at the Urban Solar Energy Association.

Recently, I put all I know about Simple Solar online in eight video installments that add up to about a half hour:  http://solarray.blogspot.com/2009/09/simple-solar-parts-1-2-and-3.html and http://solarray.blogspot.com/2009/12/simple-solar-parts-4-through-8.html

Al Gore is doing 24 hours of Climate Reality on Current TV on September 14.  I wonder how many minutes will be devoted to solutions rather than describing the problem and persuading the unconvinced.  An inconvenient truth about "An Inconvenient Truth" is that it was very light in the solutions department.  

I say Solar IS Civil Defense.  At least that level of solar is affordable, available, and practical today whatever Climate Reality you inhabit.

More solar PSAs?
. yes 100%
. no 0%
. not yes 0%
. not no 0%
. neither yes nor no 0%
. both yes and no 0%
. don't understand the question? 0%
. none of the above 0%

Votes: 3
Results | Other Polls
Not in the southern hemisphere.  And not in any place where the annual solar gain is less than the losses, such as the pacific northwest.

Look at builditsolar.com for more modern solar heating technology (i.e. far more performance for your investment).

by njh on Tue Aug 16th, 2011 at 10:48:17 PM EST
You may be right about the southern hemisphere but that strikes me as a bit of sophistry, something I myself have fallen prey to from time to time.

The Pacific Northwest has about the solar income of Germany and there is a lot of solar with a German accent.  Are you saying that caulking and sealing a window even where there is little solar gain is not a good energy tactic?  In that case, I'd guess you enjoy drafts.

Builditsolar.com is indeed a good resource.  As they say, "Adding a window to a south wall makes a very effective and efficient solar collector."

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Thu Aug 18th, 2011 at 06:14:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, I was being a bit sophisticated and I apologise.

The point I was failing to make is that yes, an equatorial facing window collects energy, but for the same amount of money you can build something vastly more effective.  Windows lose a lot of heat when they aren't collecting.  Instead, consider something like this: http://builditsolar.com/Projects/SpaceHeating/solar_barn_project.htm

by njh on Sun Aug 21st, 2011 at 03:22:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I have yet to see anyone adapt ES Morse's brilliant design to the 21st century.

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Mon Aug 22nd, 2011 at 06:21:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about it do you think is not done?  It looks like a fairly standard solar siding type thing (only with manually operated air diodes).
by njh on Mon Aug 22nd, 2011 at 10:32:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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