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Solar Path

Understanding the solar path

solar path
Image courtesy of Brad Lancaster

Understanding the solar path allows us to heat our buildings in the winter using sunlight and to cool our buildings in the summer by avoiding sunlight by exposing or shading southern facing windows for the northern hemisphere and vise versa. Take the time to observe where the sun is in the sky and through which windows the sun shines in each season to understand your solar path.

Using the solar path

In the winter

In the winter the sun's path is low and concentrated in the southern sky. This means that only the southern windows can be used for passive solar heating. Make sure that the southern windows are clear from elements that cut off sunlight. This often means trimming the lower branches of trees or cutting shrubs lower. Keep binds and curtains open to let the sunlight in. The east, west and northern windows in the winter are major sources of heat loss. They should be well insulated, have insulated curtains and exterior blinds

In the summer

Notice throughout the day which windows allow sunlight in (eastern windows in the morning, southern in midday and western in the afternoon) and shutter them during those times. The best solution for keeping cool are well inulated windows with exterior blinds. In Israel, most houses are equipped with external rolling blinds that are kept closed most of the day and opened again in the evenings.



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