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Solar Efficiency

Solar Efficient designs are designs that not only use the sun (passive solar energy) to heat the building when it is cold, but also use various devices to shade the building from the sun when it is hot.

Cold Climate: The solar orientation of the building is paramount to get the best use of the limited amount of sun available. The sun has to be allowed in with the use of strategically placed windows and clerestories, the sun energy has to be stored in heat sinks and insulated walls and roof keep the heat in.

Hot Climates: Again, the solar orientation of the building is paramount to get the best use of the shade and cooler areas. The sun is kept out using deep overhangs, window shades, shade sails and plants to create shade. Natural cooling using convection currents and natural breezes dissipate heat and insulation in walls and ceiling to keep heat out.

Solar Electric Cells
Solar electric cells were mostly used in Solar Hot Water Systems, but now photovoltaic are starting to be used to produce commercially viable amounts of electricity.
Case Study: A cattle station in the N.W. of Western Australia which also has a bed and breakfast tourist area has built a bank of linked solar cell about the size of a football field. The electricity generated is used to run the station and the tourist facilities. This has cut their reliance on their diesel generator.
Solar cells mounted on the roof of a house can be used (on a smaller scale) the same way, to power the household appliances. Excess power can be stored in batteries for use after dark or put into the power grid and money paid as a rebate on the power bill.
Most commercially available solar cells are capable of producing electricity for at least twenty years without a significant decrease in efficiency.

Skylights are one of the simplest and easiest ways to use sunlight in a house.
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