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Publication Title | Hydronic heating on renewable energy

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Rod Hyatt ©2000 Rod Hyatt

The Edisons’ 800 square foot (74 m2) studio is made of straw bales that have been stuccoed. Like the main house, the studio is solar-hydronically heated.

ff the grid and can’t power the pumps and controls for a heating system? Yes, you can. The

answer is DC hydronic heating—a natural extension of using the sun’s energy in your energy-conscious home.

One of the most overlooked aspects of solar energy is hydronic heating, which you might have heard called radiant floor heating. The concept is simple, and a must for any solar-powered home. Hydronic heating works by circulating heated water through or under your floors. This can be easily integrated into the construction of a new home, or installed in an existing home. Many systems can be installed by the homeowner. Add solar hot water panels, and the sun will help you heat your home.

Forced-air heat is often not suitable for off-grid homes because the power consumption is far too high. And conventional radiant floor heating systems are generally not suitable because of the large amounts of electricity the pumps guzzle. The answer is low voltage DC pumps.

There are other advantages to these systems for homes on and off the grid. Top among them is the reduction in dust and dry skin, which are problems caused by forced-air heating systems. Also, an efficient system can use up to 40 percent less fuel, according to the National Energy Association. And you just can’t beat a cool evening spent watching TV lying on the warm floor under a blanket, or stepping out of the shower onto a heated floor.

The straw bale studio in progress.

36 Home Power #79 • October / November 2000

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