Solar technology is NOT NEW!
Using sunlight to warm chilly places, and shade to reduce the sun’s effects has been around for over 2,500 years, yet according to the book “A Golden Thread” by Ken Butti and John Perlin, many people think that solar energy is something new that needs a lot of research before it will be of practical use to anyone! Many old towns and cities, especially in Greece, were laid out so that all the homes could capture the warmth of the winter sun and were constructed to reduce the heat from the summer sun, making their houses warm in winter and cool in summer, without the use of fuel. It appears that much of the wood previously used for heating had been used – sounds familiar? The ancient Greeks also used adobe walls (similar to cob) to protect the house from harsh rays, while in other areas, they used special floors to soak up the sun’s heat during the day, to provide heat during the evening. the Greeks also had an understanding of the cost of keeping a house warm in winter and cool in summer, recognising that a solar oriented house needed a smaller furnace to heat it. If you want to know more about solar architecture and technology, this book is well worth buying.
Warm air rises
This well known fact is the basis of a natural means of cooling houses that has been used for many centuries. One way of using this is through a solar chimney. This looks just like a normal chimney you might see on many houses, except that there is no smoke issuing from the top, instead, the top of the chimney releases only warm air. Because warm air is lost from the top of the chimney, it needs to replace this and that means that cool air is drawn through the house, cooling it naturally.
Solar chimneys (also called solar updraft towers) work best if painted black, to absorb heat from the sun and need to be placed on the side of the house facing the sun. Some commercial solar chimneys use solar panels to heat the air at the bottom of the chimney, to create a draught which turns a turbine and creates electricity!. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)”]