Architecture and Planning ETDs


Roy S. Brown

Publication Date



The United States, as well as other countries, is facing an energy crisis whose impact has already begun to be felt. The energy we use daily as utilities and take for granted in our homes has begun to run short. If present trends of pro­duction and consumption of energy continue, there will not be enough to power our homes by the end of this century.

The technology is already available to harness solar energy for individual (or multiple) dwellings for use as hot water, space heat, and air conditioning. Solar water heaters are available commercially on a small scale. Solar space heating has been done in twenty to thirty custom houses and the technology sufficiently advanced so that solar space heating may become commercially available within the decade. Solar air conditioning needs considerable study.

This thesis discusses solar hot water and space heat as they might be applied to tract housing in the Southwest or in any region with a similar proportion of heat demands to solar radiation. Of the many solar space and hot water heating systems researched, several are discussed in this thesis. The most feasible systems are applied to "middle­class" houses of about 1500 sq. ft. with the same heat losses that they have as built today.

Because of the high capital cost of solar heating equipment, a consequence of the intermittent nature of solar radiation, it is found that this application is not economically feasible with the low cost of natural gas. Moreover, it will not become feasible until the price of natural gas triples, without the cost of the solar equipment rising.

Solar energy for space heating and domestic hot water will become economically feasible probably within a generation or two. The prices of fossil fuels must go up; fossil fuels are finite. And building contractors will be forced to adopt technological changes in order to remain competitive. When the price of natural gas in this area increases two to three times, solar heating and hot water will become competitive in cost with gas over a twenty year amortization period.



Document Type


Degree Name


Second Degree


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Robert Reines

Second Committee Member

Paul Lusk

Third Committee Member

Peter Gunn Montague

Included in

Architecture Commons