Is Solar Space Heating for Me?

Summer weather is kicking in, so maybe you’re not thinking much about how to heat your home. However, making a change to your heating system is exactly the kind of thing you want to think about now. Solar is the buzzword recently, Solar electric, solar water heaters, etc. But what about solar space heating? We’re going to give you some things to think about as you consider how best to keep your family comfortable in the winter months.

The first consideration when designing a solar thermal system is your location. Not just what part of the country, but also what your site is like. If your house has unshaded areas and generally faces south, then it is a good candidate for a solar thermal system. If your roof doesn’t have enough space for solar collectors then there may be the option to install part of the system on the ground. The amount of sun that your site receives, what cold temperatures extremes you have, and other factors will also affect the type of solar heating system you choose and how it is constructed.

The next factor to consider is what, if any, homeowners association rules and neighborhood bylaws (also known as codes, covenants, and restrictions or CC&Rs) apply to your plan to install a solar space heating system. This varies by state to state and even from one community to another. Also, laws regarding solar systems are constantly changing so take the time to find out what restrictions you may be facing, if any. There will likely at least be permitting issues you will need to comply with.

Let’s move on to the size and features of your solar thermal heating system. Some of the answers to questions about system size and features depend on how you plan to use the solar system. Will it be your primary central home heating system, or will it be a secondary system? Take the time to do your research on the options available to you.

Solar space heating is different from solar water heating in that it usually requires a larger, more complicated collection system. Solar space heating systems must store heat for use when your house is coldest, that is, at night and during the winter months. They are often combined with water heating and are sized to accommodate both needs. The amount of solar collector area needed to heat your home depends on many factors, including available solar energy, collector efficiency, local climate, your home’s insulation levels and airtightness, and your lifestyle. As a rule of thumb, you can expect the solar collectors to take up an area that is about 10% to 30% of the floor area of your house.

How much cost savings can you expect? Obviously, there is not one answer for everyone. The cost to operate a solar space-heating system, depends on many factors, including the size of your house, the site it is on, how energy efficient it is, how much you will depend on a conventional central heating system, etc. Logically, your home needs to be heated more when solar energy is less available, that is at night, and in the winter when the days are shorter. In general, solar space-heating systems can provide 40% to 60% of your space-heating needs. But they provided the best payback in houses where the primary heating is done with electricity.

The folks here at GAMA Air are willing to help you decide how best to heat your home. We’ve helped many families in the Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino area, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Give us a call at (310) 651-6936 or use our online form to schedule a visit for a no-obligation quote on changing out your heating system.

Curious about something related to your heating system? Visit our Ask an Expert page and let us know what’s on your mind.

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