With the incredible advances being made within the solar power industry, there are plenty of ways to save money – and the planet – at the same time. If you don’t want to undertake the expense and hassle of installing a full solar power system to provide electricity for your entire house, you can start with these 7 ways to use solar energy around your home today.
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1. Solar indoor lights. You can burn up a lot of expensive energy using regular lights inside your home. Solar indoor lighting is an environmentally-friendly and sustainable option in a world where it has become crucial that we seek out alternative energy sources.
Instead of using overhead lights, use solar-powered desk and floor lamps to light up your home at night. Like the outdoor version, these indoor lights capture light energy during the day and store it in small batteries which the lights.
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2. Outdoor Lights. You can use solar energy to power your landscaping lights. Solar energy garden lights to light your pathways or gardens are inexpensive and can be purchased in many different styles at your local home improvement store. The solar cells located on the top of the lights gather energy from the sun and store it in small batteries inside the lights.
At night, the batteries power the lights. While earlier versions of solar outdoor lights did not produce much light, recent advances in solar cell and battery technology gave way to some powerful solar powered floodlights. These lights are a great way to see firsthand how solar energy works before you spend thousands of dollars on a complete solar system.
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3. Passive heat storage tubes. You can purchase innovative greenhouse fiberglass tubes to drastically cut down on your heating bills. The tall fiberglass cylinders – which look like pillars, but are hollow – can be used as room dividers or attractive accents.
You simply fill them with water and place them where they will get a lot of exposure to bright light where they can catch and store energy from the sun to fill your room with heat and greatly reduce your heating bill.
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4. Solar chargers for electronics. Yes, your cell phone, laptop, MP3 players and many other electronic devices can be charged with solar power. There are several solar-powered chargers on the market that either charge internal batteries, (like in cell phones) or charge C, D, AA, and AAA batteries for use in other electronic devices.
These rechargers come with different size cords to be used with different items. Using solar power to charge the electronic items you use every day can take a chunk out of your electric bill each month.
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5. Solar water heater. For a fraction of the cost of a complete solar-power system, you can install a solar-powered water heater system to generate hot water for your home. They can be used in any climate, and the fuel they use—sunshine—is free. These systems include storage tanks and solar collectors.
There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don’t. Most solar water heaters require a well-insulated storage tank with an additional outlet and inlet connected to and from the collector. In two-tank systems, the solar water heater preheats water before it enters the conventional water heater. In one-tank systems, the back-up heater is combined with the solar storage in one tank. Same relaxing hot water…less money on your utility bills.
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6. Pools and hot tubs. Many pools and hot tubs now use solar energy to heat the water. Solar power units are designed to assist the gas or electric heating units to save on your heating bills. Older model pools and hot tubs may not have a built-in solar energy system, but you can purchase solar power kits from most pool supply stores to convert your existing heater.
You can even buy solar-powered skimmers to clean your pool and spa. The price you’ll pay for the kit will definitely pay for itself via energy savings.
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7. Solar oven. As mentioned earlier, the first harnessing of solar energy was to cook food in a specially-designed oven that captured the sun’s rays to heat food. These small ovens were originally built for camping, but they work great for outdoor summer cooking as well. Rather than mess with charcoal or propane tanks, solar ovens are inexpensive and easy to use without all the waste of conventional cooking techniques.
These small ovens can cook food at a temperature of up to about 350 degrees and are fully solar-powered. A unique system of glass and reflective material absorbs the sun’s heat like a solar cell and then magnifies it so that it is hot enough to cook. Why not put away your electric or gas grill and use a solar oven for your backyard cooking? It’s economical and it’s friendly to the environment!
These are just a few of the many ways that you start using solar power around your home to see for yourself how well it works and how reliable it is before making the decision to install a full solar system in your home.