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Musings of Two Older Women for Mar. 19, 2009

Solar porch

“So let the sun shine in,

face it with a grin,

Open up your heart,

and let the sunshine in.”

    Those lyrics remain with me as I remember singing them loudly as a six-year old on our back porch in upstate New York.  When we moved to Colorado in 1966, I found that sunshine I longed for.  Jim’s co-workers came back from pre-visits to Colorado telling us grand stories about BBQ cooking outside on Christmas day.  I discovered eventually that doesn’t count for every Christmas day, but there is abundant sunshine in Colorado overall.

    Last year I decided to add a solar porch to the south side of my small home.  After looking at several books, I found that an old second hand copy of “Solarizing Your Present Home” edited by Joe Carter was most helpful for my economic base.  Maybe we could use four sliding glass doors, “glue” them together, and that would be it!  The city inspector and a local builder assured me it would not be quite that easy and put together some plans.  A local bank supplied me with funds and a permanent reason for frugality in my life (meeting mortgage obligations).  IRS reimbursement could help.

    The porch is done and worth the investment and changing lifestyle.  I stay home and enjoy the sun.  As I walk through my narrow home, it is as the proverbial quote “the light at the end of the tunnel.”  On winter days, as soon as the sun appears I remove the insulated panels (enhanced with fabric on one side and aluminum gift wrap on the other) from the windows.  Within a few minutes the porch is warm and ready for coffee and toast.  Vitamin D rays burn down most afternoons warming tired old bones and the re-used red patio bricks as porch flooring.  The fan installed over the door will not accommodate sending in all of the heat.  An additional floor fan moves heat from the overhead fan inward.  With a tiny boost from the furnace first thing in the morning, the house is warm throughout the day on normal winter days.

    In summer the porch with shading panels serves as a buffer from the heat and with a small swamp cooler added makes a helpful air-cooling system for the home.  I’m planning an awning on the south side for more “free” green cooling – an awning that comes down quickly when the wind comes up, one way or the other.  A friend recently gave me five colorful discarded bedspreads. It’s Roman shades for next year to give even more insulation and a new look.

    There’s no Seasonal Affective Disorder or scurvy in this house!  It’s opened up and letting the sunshine in.