Using the sun to heat your home through passive solar design can be both environmentally friendly and cost effective. In many cases, you can cut your heating costs by more than 50% compared to the cost of heating the same house that does not include passive solar design. Passive solar design techniques include placing larger, insulated windows on south facing walls and locating thermal mass, such as a concrete slab floor or a heat absorbing wall, close to the windows. However, a passive solar house requires careful design, best done by an architect for new construction or major remodeling.
Keep all south facing glass clean.
Make sure that objects do not block the sunlight shining on concrete slab floors or heat-absorbing walls.
Consider using insulating curtains to reduce excessive heat loss from large windows at night.
When you cozy up next to a crackling fire on a cold winter day, you probably don’t realize that your fireplace is one of the most inefficient heat sources you can possibly use. It literally sends your energy dollars right up the chimney along with volumes of warm air. A roaring fire can exhaust as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour to the outside, which must be replaced by cold air coming into the house from the outside. Your heating system must warm up this air, which is then exhausted through your chimney. If you use your conventional fireplace while your central heating system is on, these tips can help reduce energy losses.
If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly, approximately 1 inch, and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50 and 55F.
Install tempered glass doors and a heat air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
Use grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.