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Saving energy, and keeping your home warm can be a challenge. Luckily, the sun supplies us with ample amounts of energy that can be converted into electricity, or even simpler, captured using high thermal mass materials.

While you may not be familiar with the term thermal energy, you are most likely, familiar with the general principle. Basically, materials require different amounts of energy to reach a specific temperature, and/or to hold that temperature. We see examples of both almost daily, such as the aluminum foil that is cool almost instantaneously once it’s removed from the oven or the cast iron pan that is hot to the touch hours after being heated. In essence, every material acts like a battery, but instead of storing electricity, they’re storing heat, with some materials, like concrete, being more effective than others.

In regards to how much energy it can capture and how long it takes to dissipate, solids and liquids are ideal, because they are much more dense and therefore, act as better heat sinks. If you incorporate these materials into sections of your home, ideally where there is ample sunlight, it can greatly increase the efficiency of your home (or greenhouse) to maintain it’s ideal temperature, long after the sun has fallen.

Incorporating heat sinks into an existing home can be tricky, even cost prohibitive, as they usually involve the addition of heavy and labor intensive processes. If you already have a stone, sand and/or concrete water mass in your house, make sure you have large enough windows to capture as much sunlight as possible, to heat the surface during the day. You’ll be able to reap the rewards long after the day ends, with the surface slowly dissipating heat through your home. This is why passive heating is so amazing, it saves costly resources, without loss of comfort.