Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thermal Radiation & Its Uses to Make a House Greener

Thermal radiation can provide a natural energy source for a home’s heating and cooling needs. Unlike traditional heating systems that generate energy from natural gas, oil or electricity, thermal or solar radiation warms objects and surfaces from the inside out rather than the
outside in. The use of thermal radiation to make a house greener provides a cost-efficient source of energy that's less harmful to the environment.

Thermal Radiation
Thermal energy consists of an electromagnetic energy field that falls between the visible-light and infrared ranges on the electromagnetic spectrum. Once thermal, or solar energy, makes contact with a surface or object, it converts to heat. Depending on the type of surface, heat waves will either reflect into the surrounding environment or be absorbed by the surface. The temperature and color of the surface determines the intensity of heat distributed or absorbed. Using windows and walls as working surfaces, thermal radiation processes can help to make a house greener.

Solar Collectors
Solar collectors consist of special components designed to convert the energy from thermal radiation into heat. Narrow metal strips absorb thermal radiation, convert it to heat energy and then transfer the heat into another medium, such as water or air. The water or air carries the heat through a piping system to different areas in a house. A homeowner can make his house greener by installing a solar-powered water heater or a solar-powered heating system to heat the home. As regional climate conditions determine the amount of sunlight an area gets, solar-powered systems can also function as auxiliary systems that help to reduce a home’s overall heating and cooling costs.

Passive Solar Systems
Passive solar system designs distribute solar energy throughout a home using naturally occurring thermal radiation processes or solar collector devices. Depending on the climate, window placements on the south side of a home can provide the solar energy needed to create a thermal radiation effect. Heating effects result from placing energy absorbent surface materials along interior walls and floors. A passive system can also store heat energy when a thermal absorbent material or mass is installed underneath or behind wall and flooring surfaces. By installing these modifications, homeowners can make an existing home greener or create a built-in passive solar system during a home’s design and building stages.

Active Solar Systems
Active solar systems incorporate natural thermal radiation processes into a home’s heating and cooling system and in some cases function as a home’s sole source of heating and cooling. Systems that incorporate solar collector devices can store solar energy as heat during the winter months. These same systems can also create a cooling effect by eliminating solar heat built-up from the home during the summer months. Both air and liquid-based systems carry and store solar heat, though air-based systems can only hold so much energy at a time. These systems use collector devices that store and distribute heat as needed. An active solar system also makes use of electrical pumps or fans to circulate heat throughout the home. Because liquid is a denser material, liquid-based systems work best as a primary heating system for a home.

1 comment:

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