With the winter months coming, heating bills are probably going to rise. Solar power may help mitigate your increasing costs - even if you don't have solar panels! "Active" solar power utilizes sunlight to generate electricity, but "passive" solar power just creates heat directly from sunlight.
Short term solutions include just drawing back your curtains when the sun is facing the window. The sunlight entering will slowly warm up your room. Likewise, lower the blinds and shut the curtains when it's dark, to insulate your home.
Long term, you may be able to do some planning to further utilize passive solar power. Plant deciduous trees in front of windows. With these trees in place, in the summer, the leaves will block out sunlight, keeping your home cooler, and in the winter, sunlight can stream through the branches into your home.
There are all kinds of complex designs and engineering, involving water walls, insulation, and air circulation, that I don't quite understand and wouldn't feel comfortable explaining by myself, so I found a bunch of really good resources in case you are more interesting in passive solar heating.
At the Sound Home Research Center, there is some pretty good basic information, such as the costs and benefits, what works and what doesn't work.
The Arizona Solar Center has a very informative and detailed page on passive solar energy. This definitely is not for the amateur.
Here's a pretty basic YouTube video about passive heating. It's called Passive Solar Heating - Glass is All You Need. It's not the most dramatic or interesting video I've ever watched, but it does a good job of explaining.
This website shows some really cool solar home plans. Just in case you ever feel like building an home in the future.
So, there is something you can do to help lower your energy bills. Passive solar energy can be utilized by just drawing back your curtains, to building additions to your home, but you certainly don't need a fancy house and design like the one above, courtesy of www.skci.net.
How cold does it get where you live? I used to live in Wisconsin, and it would always get to below zero every winter, with tons of snow! Now that I live in the South, I haven't really seen temperatures drop below ten degrees, and we haven't had much snow except for a few flurries each year.
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