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During the fuel crunch of the 70’s, solar heating as well as alternative energy sources took center stage and became a priority for homesteaders (a by-product of the flower child and hippie days of the 60’s). Many new forms of glazing were developed as well as paints and metallic coatings to enhance the collection of solar radiation. With predictions of $2.50 per gallon home heating oil prices by the mid 80’s and forecasts of world reserves running out by the turn of the century, manufacturers formed new research departments and new companies to compete for the most efficient solar collectors. The Federal government even offered tax incentives and credits to homeowners building new homes with solar heat. Solar heating was gaining momentum, but the forecasters failed, and Reaganomics threw conservation to the wind to boost the economy, and solar energy was forgotten. Many of the developing solar companies turned their attention to other products or folded completely.

Aside from the cost savings, the use of solar energy has zero effect on the environment. If the negative effects of burning fuel become a factor, the use of solar energy becomes a benefit to the environment.

Solar heating systems fall into two categories: passive and active. Passive systems use the sun’s rays to heat a surface directly, storing the heat in a mass of concrete, rock, or water. At night the heated mass radiates the heat into the desired space. An active system collects the sun’s energy in a medium such as air or water and pumps it to a storage facility, then pumps the heated medium to the space as needed. The newest active systems use special solar cells to convert the sun’s rays to electricity and use it as it is generated or store it in batteries to be used as needed.

  Additional Information:
    Passive Solar System
    Active Solar System
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