Buildings consume large amounts of heat every year to ensure that their internal temperature stays at a comfortable level. Air conditioning cools down rooms, while heaters increase the temperature. Ice and water based systems are well known to provide cooling effects and many building designs already incorporate their use. Designing a heating system which can operate without using additional fuels is more difficult.
Heating systems can be operated using solar power. The main issue with solar power is that in extreme latitudes near the North and South poles, the reduction in heat from the sun also means that there is less energy for solar panels to collect. Some locations are warm throughout the year, although transporting electricity over long distances is a significant issue if petroleum fuels are ruled out.
Heat storage systems are one way to get around this problem. A system which can absorb and store large quantities of heat energy during the summer can release it during the winter, without requiring great amounts of additional energy usage. Directly storing heat requires good insulation, although it is still an alternative to batteries since storing large amounts of energies with batteries is expensive. Underground heat storage systems have advantages because the earth acts as an insulator.
Researchers in Poland provide several methods of long term heat capture and storage. The two main materials which capture the heat are soil and water. Water tanks and aquifers can capture large amounts of heat. Rocks and soil can capture and store heat, especially if boreholes are added. Water has a very high heat capacity compared to most other materials, so it can store a large amount of heat with lower space requirements than other materials. For example, if you place a pot on the stove, it will heat up and glow red hot very quickly if there is no water in the pot, and it will take several minutes for water to boil if the pot is full of water.
A greenhouse also provides methods of heat storage. The greenhouse has to allow light through its windows so that the plants can grow. Insulation is necessary so that the plants do not overheat. It is also very desirable to grow plants throughout the year, as many plants have a limited growing season if grown outside. By using a heat pump, a greenhouse can capture and remove excess heat during the summer and store it. The heat pumps can reverse during the winter, transferring the heat from the water or rocks back inside the greenhouse and allow plants to grow during winter without requiring additional power usage.