We've all gotten into a hot car on a sunshiny day.  
This is known as the "greenhouse effect."  The solar
radiation passes through the car windows.  When the
radiation hits a surface such as the dash board or the
car seats, then it is absorbed as thermal energy
(heat).  The same windows that readily allowed the
sunshine to come in, trap the thermal energy and the
interior of the car heats up.

Passive solar heating in a home takes advantage of
this same "greenhouse effect." Passive solar heating
harnesses this natural resource of the sun.
The energy of the sun, natural light, ventilation, and
insulation work together to make the home more energy
efficient.  In order to take advantage of natural solar
radiation, we keep the following in mind:

Most of the windows need to be on the south side
of the house while the fewest are on the north side.

The west side should not have very many windows
to protect from the hot summer sun. It's usually a
simple task to place the garage on the west side.

South facing clerestory windows and skylights can
be used to bring the sun deeper into the house.

Passive solar heating is not a substitute for
prudent energy efficient construction and
appliances.

While no home can be totally heated by solar
radiation, the sun is a free natural resource and
good planning and design makes passive solar
heating readily available for any home.
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How Passive Solar Heating Works