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Water Walls: A passive solar heating solution.

By Loretta White
January 3, 2009
File under: Cooling Systems, Green Building Design, Heating Systems, Natural Alternatives, Remodeling Green


Second in my series of alternative heating, cooling and power is Water-Walls. What are water walls? Well, basically, they are exactly what they sound like, water containers installed along, on or incorporated in new or existing buildings. Used for years in equestrian and gardening applications, this tried and true method utilizes the sun to collect heat during the day and cools at night. They can be invisible or used as a feature, stand alone or attached to a structure. Whether you are building a new house or working with an existing building this is a great DIY solution. Kits are available to purchase or design and build your own.

Passive Solar Heat from Water Walls offer the most cost effective means of providing heat to buildings and a 10-20% advantage over other passive solar designs like concrete, phase-change salts or masonry (Trombe). Additionally, the energy savings for heating and cooling can be expected in the 70 to 90 percent range. They have more surface area and respond more quickly in both the absorption and release of heat than any other method and they work well in all climates. How great is that. In case of drought, fire or other disaster, water-walls offer wall provide an excellent source of emergency water.

In so many ways, passive solar methods are superior to those of standard heating and cooling. They don’t rely on auxiliary energy sources, so they’ll work even when there is no power, they are simple, lower in cost, have long life expectancies due to the fact that there are no moving parts that wear out, need little or no maintenance and can be installed by the weekend DIYer and because waters fine radiating and temperature moderating qualities, water walls create a very comfortable temperatures. Not to mention the fact that their working cost is ZERO Dollars!

To boost performance even further, you can combine water walls with a strategically situated insulating shell and together can maintain enough warmth to eliminate the need for a central back-up system. As if this is not enough, the installation of a water wall also increases the R value of your buildings insulation. A study conducted for the California Energy Commission showed that water-wall dwellings met 80% of their own heating needs and have provided full cooling.

I use to increase crop production, extending the beds growing season in my outdoor beds by using small diameter plastic tube shaped bags that later on I will empty, thus utilizing the water as well. One step at a time, we can all become more green daily.

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