If you have considered harnessing the sun to power your home, but aren’t sure where to begin, this article is for you! Below you will find multiple ways that both renters and home owners can utilize solar energy and other solar products to minimize their energy consumption.
If you own your home and are ready to go all in, photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are the way to go. Yes, solar panels can be added to homes in areas (such as the Pacific Northwest) that are often cloudy and overcast. As long as placement and quantity are accurate, or self-adjusting mounts are used, the panels will absorb and store the energy you need. This is an investment, so make sure you do the math before you decide. Between green tax credits, annual energy savings, and options in leasing and financing, there is much to consider. Many solar companies offer packages that include tax credits with the purchase of solar solutions – if you have the mechanical skills, you can even do much of the work yourself.
Thermal Solar Water Heaters
If you can’t go 100% solar, then a thermal solar water heater is the next best energy-saving tool at your disposal. Not only can you heat the water in your home, but you can also heat your pool, hot tub, or even your radiant heating systems. There are a few options available with solar hot water heaters, both active and passive systems to be considered. There is an excellent overview provided by the U.S. Department of Energy to get your started, from which you will be able to make more informed decisions when making a selection.
Everyday Solar Energy
If you are a renter, you may not be able to convince your landlord to upgrade their home systems, but you can still harness the power of solar energy. There is an endless option of everyday solar products to choose from, with innovative new products developed at a lightning fast rate. A few products to consider include:
- Solar powered electronics chargers—smartphone, notebook, laptop, desktop, camera, etc.
- Solar powered oven
- Solar powered indoor fans
- Solar powered outdoor/garden lights
- Portable solar panels for a variety of use
- Solar camping and outdoor gear—lanterns, flashlight, backpack, shower, water cooler, water purifier, etc.
Check out some of the cool gear available to assist you in your exploration of solar energy, solar systems and other alternative power solutions.
Energy Strategies—Beyond Solar
While harnessing the power of the sun will go a long way in reducing your carbon footprint and provide you with an excellent source of energy, there are an multitude of additional ways that you can increase the amount of power you have available. A few ideas to consider include:
- Invest in smart energy strips
- Turn off lights, TVs, and music players when not in use
- Unplug all items when not in use, so as to not draw vampire energy
- Install strategically placed skylights or windows to improve natural lighting
- Upgrade to energy efficient everything that plugs in—light bulbs, appliances, electronics, windows, doors, HVAC, and water heater
- Install a smart home system that advises you on your energy strategy, or allows you to manage your home remotely
The energy-saving strategies above provide solutions for every budget and level of commitment to reducing your carbon footprint.
While harnessing the power of the sun is a great solution to provide additional energy to your power systems, it has been demonstrated that in and of itself, such solutions are best utilized as part of a mix of power generation solutions. To ensure your power requirements are met, even in scenarios where sunlight is reduced, it is an excellent idea to ensure other power generation options are available, to provide you with the necessary energy you require.