Solar Energy for Heating Homes: How Practical—

by Eugene E. Dallaire, Assoc. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1980, Vol. 50, Issue 2, Pg. 38-46

Document Type: Feature article


There is a widespread belief that on-site solar energy for heating homes is still not a proven technology and that, in any event, it's much too expensive. The fact is that on-site solar systems are low technology, and have been around for years. It is true that many solar systems are costly—typically $15,000 for a house. But there are a handful of firms that have come up with low-cost systems. One such firm is Thomason Solar Homes, which makes a solar system that provides two-thirds of the annual heating needs of the home for an initial cost of only $5,000 to $7,000. In fact, it's cheaper to install this system in a new home than to install a conventional heating and air conditioning system. At a time when much of the Department of Energy's R&D program is aimed at 21st century technologies quite remote from solving today's energy crisis, the Thomason approach is a welcome piece of immediately applicable, remarkably simple engineering. Its widespread use could greatly reduce the amount of fuel oil and natural gas now burned to heat homes.

Subject Headings: Solar power | HVAC | Residential buildings | Benefit cost ratios | Temperature effects | Research and development | Energy consumption | Oils

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