Autonomous Building - Systems - Heating


Most autonomous buildings are designed to use insulation, thermal mass and passive solar heating and cooling. Examples of these are trombe walls and other technologies as skylights.

Passive solar heating can heat most buildings in even the coldest climates. In colder climates, extra construction costs can be as little as 15% more than new, conventional buildings. In warm climates, those having less than two weeks of frosty nights per year, there is no cost impact.

The basic requirement for passive solar heating is that the solar collectors must face the prevailing sunlight (south in the northern hemisphere, north in the southern hemisphere), and the building must incorporate thermal mass to keep it warm in the night.

A recent, somewhat experimental solar heating system "Annualized geo solar heating" is practical even in regions that get little or no sunlight in winter. It uses the ground beneath a building for thermal mass. Precipitation can carry away the heat, so the ground is shielded with 6 m skirts of plastic insulation. The thermal mass of this system is sufficiently inexpensive and large that it can store enough summer heat to warm a building for the whole winter, and enough winter cold to cool the building in summer.

In annualized geo solar systems, the solar collector is often separate from (and hotter or colder than) the living space. The building may actually be constructed from insulation, for example, straw-bale construction. Some buildings have been aerodynamically designed so that convection via ducts and interior spaces eliminates any need for electric fans.

A more modest "daily solar" design is very practical. For example, for about a 15% premium in building costs, the Passivhaus building codes in Europe use high performance insulating windows, R-30 insulation, HRV ventilation, and a small thermal mass. With modest changes in the building's position, modern krypton- or argon-insulated windows permit normal-looking windows to provide passive solar heat without compromising insulation or structural strength. If a small heater is available for the coldest nights, a slab or basement cistern can inexpensively provide the required thermal mass. Passivhaus building codes in particular bring unusually good interior air quality, because the buildings change the air several times per hour, passing it though a heat exchanger to keep heat inside.

In all systems, a small supplementary heater increases personal security and reduces lifestyle impacts for a small reduction of autonomy. The two most popular heaters for ultra-high-efficiency houses are a small heat pump, which also provides air-conditioning, or a central hydronic (radiator) air heater with water recirculating from the water heater. Passivhaus designs usually integrate the heater with the ventilation system.

Earth sheltering and windbreaks can also reduce the absolute amount of heat needed by a building. Several feet below the earth, temperature ranges from 4 °C (39 °F) in North Dakota to 26 °C (79 °F), in Southern Florida. Wind breaks reduce the amount of heat carried away from a building.

Rounded, aerodynamic buildings also lose less heat.

An increasing number of commercial buildings use a combined cycle with cogeneration to provide heating, often water heating, from the output of a natural gas reciprocating engine, gas turbine or stirling electric generator.

Houses designed to cope with interruptions in civil services generally incorporate a wood stove, or heat and power from diesel fuel or bottled gas, regardless of their other heating mechanisms.

Electric heaters and electric stoves may provide pollution-free heat (depending on the power source), but use large amounts of electricity. If enough electricity is provided by solar panels, wind turbines, or other means, then electric heaters and stoves become a practical autonomous design.

Read more about this topic:  Autonomous Building, Systems

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Famous quotes containing the word heating:

    If the factory people outside the colleges live under the discipline of narrow means, the people inside live under almost every other kind of discipline except that of narrow means—from the fruity austerities of learning, through the iron rations of English gentlemanhood, down to the modest disadvantages of occupying cold stone buildings without central heating and having to cross two or three quadrangles to take a bath.
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