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Easy and almost-free home heating

Filed Under: staying green

It's getting cold out there this Autumn -- very cold. Before those natural gas or electricity bills start giving you financial chills, you'd be wise to watch the video above. This appears to be an ingenious way to create a very cheap solar heater you can use to heat individual rooms using a few common items you can find at a local craft store or discount bin. That, and hopefully a jar of pennies.

If you're adventurous enough to tackle this 30-minute project, let us know how it goes in the comments. The physics for this project sound completely legit, and this video almost could pass for a poor man's solar roof collector. Of wait -- it can!

Seriously, this is one 'green' way to heat up your rooms this winter as long as you have some very decent windows that have access to sunlight (preferably, full sunlight) at least four hours per day. The more sunlight exposure, the more heat.


  • Allan

    It is true that an outdoor heat collector will provide a net heat influx to the house, but ONLY if you completely seal the piping so warm air cannot escape at night. This can be a challenge.

    Perhaps a better idea would be using a natural storage medium in which to place the energy from the sunlight. Two ideas come to mind immediately. First, a large piece of rock in the sunlight will absorb the heat and hold it in for hours. Or a brick wall or cinderblock wall. Second, water absorbs and holds heat well. It would work well to turn the solar air heater demonstrated here into a solar hot water heater connected to a big water reservoir in the living space. You can circulate water through the solar heater whenever the sun is shining in the window. When the sun stops shining--and the water temperature stops rising---you can shut off the heater and let the water's warmth slowly dissipate into the living space overnight. Again, however, avoiding leaks is of paramount importance. Perhaps if you use a thermosiphon, you won't need to use an electric pump to circulate the water. Place the water reservoir next to the living space, as close to the people as possible. Inside the floor would be ideal if you're building the home. Otherwise, the reservoir could be place in a box against an inside wall or in a coffee table, or even a support for a kitchen table.

  • Derek

    This heater doesn't work any better than the window letting light in itself. Most of the light entering the house through a window bounces around a few times and is absorbed as heat.

    The benefit is when you have such a heater outside the house and vented into a house with vents that close when there is no solar heat. Then the section of wall heated passes heat into the house and the thick, insulated wall doesn't lose heat at night like a window.

  • sanman

    I agree with the previous comment and also I don't see the 'copper' pennies as having much to do with it either (for the reasons mentioned in the video) especially since they're only copper-plated zinc...

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