What is a Solar Heater?
In northern BC where keeping a comfortable indoor temperature can require input for most of the year, a building's heating system draws a significant amount of energy. Solar panels can provide a supplemental (or primary) energy source, but the sun's energy can also be harnessed directly to channel warm air into a building.
The basic idea is this: air flows through a chamber that has been heated by the sun, warming it up as it enters the building. Typically this involves some sort of piping, with the exterior painted black to capture maximum heat. A small fan can power the flow of air and regulate how quickly it comes in, and therefor how warm it gets. Obviously, solar heaters are only functional when the sun is shining, but even in the winter they can provide a heat source for a unheated building.
Solar heaters can be bought online or constructed with a little time and effort. To maximize environmental impact, they can even be built out of waste materials, such as tin cans or pop cans, pictured below.