Heat Your Home with the Sun's Help

September 07, 2015

Here in Massachusetts, once September hits, temperatures start to drop. And once they start dropping, they’ll just keep going down until you hit the depths of winter. All the time (and money) you spent during the summer trying figure out how to cool your house turns into an effort to determine how to keep it warm in the fall and winter. Fortunately, there’s one source that can heat your home for free: the sun.

However, although the sun’s heat is ample and free, harnessing it to warm your home isn’t a simple process. It takes a little work—and creativity. With those two ingredients, though, you can use the sun to warm your home once the cold days settle in.

  • Glaze old windows. Window glazing is a putty you apply to the exterior edges of windows to seal them to keep warm air in the house and cold air out of it. Generally, only old single-pane windows require glazing. So if you have an older home, check to see whether the window glazing is in good shape: that it’s covering the edge of the window frames and isn’t cracked—or, worse yet, falling out. No matter whether your home is heated by sunlight or an HVAC unit, if the windows aren’t sealed, you’ll be losing valuable hot air.


  • Keep windows closed. This goes for doors, too. Warm air quickly and easily seeps out of open windows and doors, so ensure that they’re all tightly closed.


  • Keep windows clean: Dirt, debris, and smudges can keep the sun’s light—and heat—out of your home. The easiest and best way you can start maximizing the sunlight entering your home is to clean the windows. You can use a cleaner or a simple vinegar solution to make sure they’re squeaky clean.


  • Use the right shades and coverings. A clean window lets in more sunlight. But if thick, dark curtains hang in front of those clean windows, that light won’t make it in the house. The best way to let sunlight into the house is to keep curtains open during the day. If you’d prefer to have some covering over the windows, use a loose-weave curtain in a light color. These types of curtains allow maximum sunlight into the house. Once the sun sets, though, keep it there. Use thick curtains to trap in the sun’s heat at day’s end. There are even insulated curtains that do a particularly good job of trapping warm air in a house.


  • Know which windows let in the most light. In general, sunlight shines most on a home’s south-facing windows. Of course, your home might be unique, and its south-facing windows could be blocked by trees, another building, or any other obstruction. Whichever of your windows receive the most sunlight during the day, make sure the curtains in front of them are open or you’re using a loose-weave, light-colored curtain to allow sunlight to enter. Then trap in that warm air with a heavy or insulated curtain.


  • Install a skylight. Since it’s positioned on the roof, a skylight allows sunlight into a house all day long, serving as a great source for that warm light. You’ll have to pay to install one, but it could help save you big money on heating bills in the long run.


Take these steps to keep bountiful, warm sunlight in your house during the fall and winter. Once you make these tips part of your daily routine, you could save real dollars in heating costs.

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