Greening Your Home: 5 Ways Solar Can Help
This is a contributed article by Brad Ormsby, marketing manager at SunPower by The Solar Quote. You can find some of his other work on solar energy here.
If you’ve ever watched one of the DIY programs about living off the grid, you’ve probably seen the creative ways people use solar energy. Fortunately, you don’t have to live in the woods to take advantage of solar and its benefits. In fact, it’s an ideal way to start greening your home. In this post, we’ll talk about five solar technologies you may or may not know about and how they can save you both energy and money.
Let’s dive in…
Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heaters are a great way to add some “green” to your home. In fact, they can save you 50 to 80 percent on your water heating bill every month!
There are two types of solar water heaters: Active and passive. Active systems are called “active” because they circulate the water throughout the system. These are the water heaters you would use in slightly colder climates, where temperatures rarely drop below freezing.
A passive system, on the other hand, works better for warmer climates. They have fewer moving parts so they’re more reliable and generally less expensive. However, they’re also less efficient than active systems. They simply collect the sun’s heat passively rather than having rooftop collection panels and pumps like the active systems.
If you’re considering a solar water heater, you may be able to find tax credits that save you even more on your purchase.
Charging Your Car
If you own an electric car, you already realize the importance of sustainable energy and reducing emissions. However, many towns are still lacking sufficient charging stations, and plugging your car in at home can run up your power bill. Fortunately, home solar panels can also provide the power to charge your car.
If you don’t have solar panels yet, consult with your installer to make sure your system has enough juice to also power your car. Once you have the panels, all you need is a personal charging station, which isn’t as hard to find as you might think – you can find one on Amazon for a few hundred bucks.
To charge your car up to drive about 50 miles, it only costs you $2 with home power. And when you’re using solar, it’s even less. When you look at the price of fuel at your local gas station – those savings add up pretty fast.
Solar Outdoor Lights
Another cheap and easy way to green your home and save money is with solar-powered lights. You can buy inexpensive lights to line your walkway and flower gardens, or even provide lighting for an outdoor patio. You can also install solar-powered, motion-sensor lights around the house for added security.
Most solar outdoor lights contain a small panel that captures sunlight and transforms it into energy that’s stored in a small battery. If the panel gets a few hours of sun every couple days, the lights will stay fully charged.
Another perk of these lights is that they’re easy to install. Since the units are self-contained, there’s no need to drill holes in the wall or run long extension cords.
Rooftop Solar Panels
Who doesn’t want to save money on their electric bill? If you live in an area that receives a good amount of sunshine, you may want to install solar panels on your house. Over the lifetime of your panels, you’ll save tens of thousands of dollars, and the panels ultimately pay for themselves within a few years.
Inside your home, you can control how much or how little solar energy you use and when you want to use it. If you live in an especially sunny location, you might even be able to sell some of your unused energy back to the utility company through a net metering program. Solar panels also require no maintenance, other than occasionally cleaning them.
Although it can cost around $15,000 to $30,000 to purchase the initial solar panel system, there are solar tax credits to help offset up to 30 percent of this expense. Of course, you also have the option to lease your panels and reduce or eliminate upfront costs.
Solar batteries are slowly taking over the world, even in the clothing world. Major fashion designers are creating jackets, backpacks, watches, and even jewelry powered by solar. Although you’ve probably only seen the first few glimpses of this trend, chances are, it’ll continue to grow in the coming years.
You might already own a cell phone case that uses sunshine to charge the battery. Not only are these devices convenient, they also can help you play a daily role in greening not just your home, but the world. While one solar battery charger may not seem like a big deal, imagine if everyone around the world did the same. The combined impact is monumental.
Get Started at Greening Your Home
Greening your home with solar energy doesn’t have to be hard. The technology is now established and reliable enough to use for almost every purpose. Moreover, upfront costs of solar installations are the lowest they’ve ever been, making solar increasingly competitive with traditional energy sources. If you want to green your home and lifestyle with solar, there’s never been a better time to start.
You may also like:
- 5 Solar Technologies Changing the Energy Landscape
- Will California’s Solar Mandate Pay Off for Homeowners?
- Shedding Light on Solar: How Utility Data Drives Revenue Growth
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About Amy Hou
Amy Hou is a Marketing Associate at Urjanet, writing about emerging topics in sustainability, energy management, and data innovation.