Solar Power

Converting to Solar Power For Home Energy Savings

There are a variety of ways to implement solar power for home energy and save money. So-called passive solar design heats, cools and brings natural light into your home inexpensively through intelligent design. Active systems like solar electricity and solar heating provide power for appliances, and hot water for laundry, showers, cooking, and cleaning.

Whether you’re planning your solar home or converting an existing home, consider which options are most efficient, and cost effective for using solar energy.

Passive solar. A passive solar system doesn’t make use of special equipment to enhance the heating, cooling and natural light. It leverages the environment to accomplish great reductions in energy use.

Building wide eaves for example blocks the steep-angled rays of the summer sun while welcoming the low-angled sun of the wintertime. And bringing brick or stone inside the house can provide surfaces the sun can heat that will radiate warmth throughout the day and into the evening. You can design a south facing window to let sun in and choose furniture and flooring that will absorb and redistribute heat. An attached Trombe wall collects heat. Fans and thermal mass distribute the heat throughout the home.

Active solar heating. Solar water heating is common in solar homes. You’ll find two kinds: open loop and closed loop systems. In open loop systems, the sun heats water in pipes which is then circulated for family use. Swimming pools are often heated this way. Closed loop systems enclose a mixture of water and antifreeze in pipes. Heat exchangers heat the water the family uses and consumes. Closed loop systems are often the choice in areas that are prone to cold weather.

Active solar electricity. You can use photovoltaic (PV) cells to absorb sunshine and convert it into electricity. The energy produced by the PV cells must be inverted to DC (direct current) your appliances can use. You can use the solar electricity directly to supplement your metered power, or store the electricity in a battery. With enough surface area, solar panels can convert enough sunshine into electricity to power the entire house. You’ll likely want a back up generator in case of an energy shortfall.

Passive solar systems are most effective when designed in from the beginning. Active systems can be added to a house after it has been built. Even if your home site is well established you can get into active solar electricity on a small scale quite inexpensively. Even if you start small with solar panels, you have the potential over time to generate enough solar power for home energy to take your house off the electric grid altogether.

Your next step is to check out websites that offer good reviews of systems that teach you to build solar power for home energy as well as other products that make green energy easy.