February 17, 2014

Solar Furnace Monday

You can make a solar furnace at home with basic materials including empty aluminum cans.

The winter of the Polar Vortex is sending chills through the bones of those dependent on fossil fuels for home and hot water heating. Just as the cold descends, the price of fossil fuel heating sources has skyrocketed.

Newspapers have reported on natural gas price increases of 110 per cent between September and January in some areas of Nova Scotia. This is a bargain compared to those across the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick where gas prices quadrupled for some customers.

Natural gas is one of the most common types of energy used for home heating in Canada. Almost half (47%) of Canadian households use natural gas as their main heating fuel. 37% use electricity and a further 9% use oil, 6% wood or wood pellets and 1% propane.

All fossil fuel energy sources have been increasing in price. It has been a good winter to have a wood stove or solar furnace, or to live in a multi-family building or energy efficient tiny home.

The price of renewable energy sources on the other hand, has been steadily dropping in recent years. As the price of old fashioned fossil fuel choices increases, so does the interest in competitively priced alternative heat sources, and DIYs are taking things into their own hands.

Side view of solar furnace installed on exterior of south-facing house wall.

A man in the Maritimes grabbed headlines this year with his $300.00 homemade solar furnace. "The air comes in at 5 C, and comes out at 38 C," inventor Randy Buchanan said of his money saving device.

"I think it's something that everyone should have affixed right to [their] house. I think it should be part of your design," said Buchanan. "It would be very easy to do."

A tiny proportion of households currently use alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind, and ground source heat pumps. In 2007, about 111,600 households, or less than 1% of all Canadian households, used one or more of these renewable energy sources.

With free, inexhaustible and clean energy like solar, my guess is that will be changing soon.

1 comment:

  1. saw a youtube video on how to build these during the snow storms in the east and did wonder why people weren't building them, because during some of the power outages it was very sunny, in some locations. there was also a video on how to build a small heater with a couple of tea lights and flower pots. that one I tried and wasn't I just amazed when it worked! there really was warm air coming out of the top. In an emergency I wouldn't have to freeze, I always have tea lights around and yes I make sure they come from countries which don't put a lot of junk in them. bees wax tea lights work very well.

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