Solar Thermal Mass Windows – Free Passive Solar Heat

Although winter is finally over, it is still somewhat cold outside and we have to turn on the heat. Recently, I have found a very interesting product which can be used by anyone to heat their home or apartment for free. Even if you rent, you can do it without getting the land lord involved. The only things you’ll need are south-facing windows and a thermal mass solar window.

Solar mass thermal windows

As you can see from the image above these windows measure 72 degrees F, while outside temperature that day was 22 degrees, with a 27 F high. (Historic weather data).

The 50 degree difference in temperature is the free heat that enters your home and stays. Here is how the Solar Thermal Mass windows work in a nut shell: it as a 2 inches thick air and water-tight container filled with special liquid that collects and stores solar thermal energy. Special chemicals added to the liquid prevent stain deposits on the inner walls if the unit. In the picture above, these units are used as building blocks, and cover almost half of the south-facing wall.

In the winter, when the sun is low, these windows collect solar heat since the sun hits them directly. In the summer, the sun is much higher and with appropriate shading, these thermal mass windows keep the home well insulated without collecting any heat. Additionally, a special low emittance and high solar gain argon filled window unit is installed just outside the thermal windows, so they are not directly exposed to the outside temperature.

How to heat your existing house for free

The picture above was taken in a new construction house, but for most people the interesting question is how to use these thermal mass windows in an existing home or apartment?

My plan was simple: I have 6 large windows that face south and an unheated balcony, which cannot be used in the winter because it is too cold there. In the heated living space, we have new double pane Low-E windows installed, which are much more efficient than the original single-pane wood windows from the 50’s. I am going to build an enclosure in which I can stack 4-6 thermal mass solar window units, and have them up in the window during the winter months, and take them out in the summer.

This will not be as efficient as the one in the new construction home above, but it will certainly help reduce my heating bill and carbon footprint.

As for the balcony, I first need to replace all the single-pane glazing and then I can stack the thermal mass windows all along the bottom of the windows. I’ll build special shelves to make the process of putting them up for the winter, and removing them in the summer, easier.

Traditional Sash Windows – Thermal Performance Solution

Here is how to make your traditional sash windows more energy efficient…

Sash Windows Traditional vertical sliding sash windows, are based on a simple design of two of sliding glass panels (top and bottom sashes) and have been part of the UK’s architectural heritage for over three hundred years. The sash window originates from 17th century England, where the first prototype, the single hung sash window, was created by Robert Hooke, an inventor who specialized in mechanics and architecture. The first type was more basic than those created nowadays and can still be seen in some historic buildings, predominantly of aristocratic ownership.


Instead of replacing traditional sash windows, there are multiple reasons why owners should opt for restoring them to their initial appearance and at the same time optimize their thermal performance.

Sash Window Repair

It is best for the restoration process to be carried out by specialized companies and it should always be adapted to the specific type of sash windows and its particular deficiencies. Common sash window repair works ( include: replacing sections of the box frame (normally the lower section of pulley stiles), lower sections of outer linings, bottom rails and window sills and replacing missing puttying and repainting. Using traditional carpentry and joinery methods with advanced modern epoxy resins ensures a permanent repair. This process does not alter their original appearance but instead, mends the alterations brought to it by time and natural phenomena.

Sash Window Draught Proofing

This is also a very effective process, and if done correctly, it maximizes heat retention in the home and minimizes heat and energy loss. Sash window draught proofing is less known perhaps, yet once a sash window has been overhauled and draught correctly, even old sash windows can equal or surpass modern ones in terms of energy efficiency.

In this process, the staff beads and parting beads are replaced with new beadings with a draught proofing material permanently machined into the beads, top and bottom sash re-fitted and also fitted with a draught proofing material (usually a brush pile).

Sash Window Draught proofing

Sash Window Draught proofing

weight to the correct counter balance ensuring the sash close with a minimum gap.


Find more green Home Improvement Ideas at – Green Home Ideas blog.

How to Make Your Home More Enegry Efficient and Eco Friendly

With the winter looming just around the corner, your home’s energy efficiency starts to weigh heavily not only in terms of being green from the environmental, personal, and social perspective, but it is becoming increasingly important because of very high heating costs.

In this guide I am going to present some fairly easy to implement ideas on how to increase your home’s energy efficiency on a budget.

Home Insulation Ideas

If your home was built before 1970s, then it is very likely that it does not have sufficient levels of insulation, which results in unnecessary heat loss. Many states now offer some very attractive home insulation programs, grants and rebates. For instance, the state of Massachusetts, my home state, provides a 75% tax credit rebate on energy efficient insulation up to $2000.00 (year 2011).

There are many similar programs in other states, and taking advantage of similar energy efficient insulation rebate programs will put money back in your pocket, and reduce your heating and cooling costs. Additionally, it will also increase the saleability of your home, reduce the chance of your heating pipes bursting in the winter, reduce cold air drafts, and make your home a more comfortable place for you and your family.

Attic Insulation

Going back to older homes built before 1970s, if you happen to live in one, chances are that your loft or attic insulation is not sufficiently insulated and ventilated. This is a common reason for ice dams on the roof in the winter and costly roof, walls, and insulation damages that may not necessarily be covered by homeowners insurance.

You can better insulate your attic by locating air leaks, and applying a caulk sealant to stop the unwanted air leaks. You can feel for these air leaks with your hand, or buy a special tool for detecting thermal leaks in your home at your local home improvement store. Another alternative would be having a professional home energy audit performed in your house, which would give you a complete report outlining locations where energy loss due to insufficient insulation and air leaks occurs.

You can then follow up on recommendations of the home energy audit report, and have a contractor insulate and seal poorly insulated, and poorly sealed areas in your house for you. If you are into DIY and want to save some money, you can tackle these issues yourself with the help of specialty sealants, and attic insulation bats.

Having a sufficiently insulated and properly ventilated attic will help prevent ice dams on your roof. Being prepared for cold storms with a properly insulated home can save a ton of money and headaches from having to deal with busted pipes and ice dams damage in the winter. Trust me on this!

If you plan on having a new roof installed any time soon, then consider replacing the old one with an energy efficient metal roofing system, which will help reduce your cooling costs in the summer, and help stop ice dams in the winter.

Insulating Walls

You can have your walls insulated with a blown in insulation, or you can have more insulation put in, if you are planning to install new siding on your house some time in the near future. Obviously, blown insulation is much easier and less costly than ripping apart your sheet rock to install a cavity wall insulation, but if you are doing a complete remodel of certain rooms in your home, and you are taking off old sheet rock, then you can have your wall cavities insulated during this time. Although, in all honesty ripping off your old sheet rock, or plaster and installing a new one is a messy and expensive way to do it.

Simple Way to Insulate Windows for the Winter

If you do not quite have the money to replace your old windows with energy efficient ones, then you can install a special film over them.This will reduce the cold air drafts, keep your rooms warmer and save money on reduced heating bills.

If you have already implemented all of the above measures, and are ready for the next step, consider replacing your old oil burner with an energy efficient gas heating system. Once again, there may be some good rebates available when you choose to upgrade your heating system with a 92 to 96% energy efficient gas burner. The cost of gas is less than the cost of oil, and having an energy efficient burner will further reduce your heating costs in the winter. You can also install energy efficient gas-powered hot water burners to reduce the cost of heating water in your home.

Other energy efficient modifications to consider include: LED lighting, low flow faucets, shower heads and dual flush toilets that will conserve water year round.

How to Plan a Home Renovation

Renovating Your Home Requires Careful Planning

We have all seen home renovations that have gone awry. They are usually the result of planning that was not done properly and that did not take into account unforeseen complications and problems. Before you start renovating your home, you need to lay out a very detailed plan that covers all contingencies – or at least all of the ones you can think of while making the plan. Here are five things you need to really consider and plan for before you start your renovation project.

– Sit down and make a realistic budget, calculating how much you have to spend on your home project.

The biggest problem people run into when renovating their homes is going over budget. If you set yourself a strict spending limit and stay within it, you should be all right.

– Talk to your city council to see if you need building permits or if there are any regulations. If you have a historic home, there is great likelihood that you will need approval from the city council to do any kind of external renovation.

– Hire a contractor who knows their job well and has done home renovations. Make sure you talk to a few remodeling contractors in order to get the best job within your budget. Set your start and completion date to their schedule so that you know they will be focusing on your home. Additionally, make sure they offer a guarantee on all of their work.

– Choose the products you want installed in your home as well as your color schemes.

You want your renovation to be done to suit your tastes. Measure areas like the bathroom and kitchen before you go and purchase the new building materials for your home. Make sure you order them well ahead of time so that they are already there when you contractor comes to do the job. You may want to discuss with your contractor the items you want placed in your home. They may be able to provide you with some additional options.

– If the renovation is extensive, have a professional drawn up a detailed plan for you.

Detailed plans of the work you wish to have done will help the contractor doing the work proceed in an orderly fashion. Plans also help you visualize the renovation and give you a way to track the progress. Alternatively, you can use a home renovation computer program yourself to draw up your renovation schedule.

If you keep these five tips in mind when you start working on your home renovation, you will find that it will progress much smoother than you expected, and should keep you within the budget you planned to spend.

Green Home Remodeling Ideas

Of course, remodeling your home is a big consideration, and should not be undertaken without a fair amount of research. There are many projects that can be completed on your own over the span of a weekend, and just as many that will likely require the help of an expert, as well as several weeks time.

Home remodeling projects should never be started without checking first with your local regulations and restrictions. Many areas prohibit any sort of construction without first receiving a permit.

In the event you do not own your home, you can still remodel your home to a certain degree with your property owner’s approval. Many property owners allow their tenants to carry out small projects, such as painting or re-tiling, as long as they are aware of the intended improvements beforehand.

Choosing which type of home remodeling project you would like to start can be overwhelming, as the options are practically endless. What is perhaps the most important decision is the cost of the venture. Many remodeling jobs end up costing much more than you will ever recoup in the event you sell your home in the near future.

One of the easiest ways to calculate the worth of a remodeling project is to evaluate the amount of years you are likely to remain in your home and the potential of use and enjoyment you will receive from the improvement. For example, an expenditure of $5,000 on a deck might not raise your home’s value by that amount, but if you envision spending a great deal of time enjoying the deck, then go for it!

When assuming a remodeling job for the sake of selling your home for more money, you must critically evaluate the increase of profit you are likely to see from the work involved. The best projects for this type of situation will always be in the kitchen and bathroom.

The next step will be deciding whether you can do the project yourself or if you will need to hire a professional. Projects involving plumbing and electricity should be considered with caution if you have no experience in those particular endeavors as the cost you think you will be saving from doing the job yourself might be doubled when you need to hire a professional to fix your mistakes. Only take on jobs that you are qualified to do.

There are many remodeling projects that are not only easy, but also inexpensive and can be done with only a few tools and a bit of know how. For instance, updating bathroom and kitchen fixtures is quite simple and requires only a bit of pipe tape and a few wrenches. Measure your current configuration and make careful notes before heading out to the local hardware or home improvement store to see what options are available.

Updating your cabinets can also be as simple as replacing hardware, but if you feel daring consider painting them with a coat of colorful enamel. Re-tiling a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom is another quick way to update the look without spending a fortune.

Painting has always been a quick, easy, and cost effective way to revive and modernize your living space. Be careful to tape off areas that you do not want painted, and then go crazy with some color. There are websites devoted to letting you try out different paint colors so you can experiment virtually before you ever open a can of paint!

A current trend, which incorporates the use of concrete in kitchen flooring and counters, is surprisingly easy and affordable. Portable electric cement mixers can often be rented so you can mix your own materials. Combining cement and sand or gravel with some water to create concrete for all of your imagined projects is easier than you might think!

If you want to try your hand at a concrete project, start with something a bit smaller such as patching your driveway or pouring a little patio area. You will find that mixing your own concrete in a little cement mixer is not only easy, but also fun. Before you know it, you will be creating birdbaths and retaining walls!

building a retaining wall in a garden