For centuries we have used the sun’s natural energy to our advantage. For example, it has been used in ancient times to provide natural lighting in temples, for photosynthesis and natural heating for growing crops, to desalinize and purify water, and it has been magnified and intensified to heat thermal power plants.
But, more importantly it can also be used on a domestic level, as a clean source energy for various households.
A solar cooker is an extremely healthy, inexpensive and clean alternative to cooking your food. Though solar cookers have been used a lot to desalinize water in poor arid countries, many 1st world countries are adopting them in summer for cooking their food.
With solar cooking, the oven has a number of reflective panels arranged in a parabola, where they focus the sun on a single pot, in which the food is placed. Depending on the design, the cooker can make a variety of dishes from bread to steamed vegetables to fried eggs to a roast beef, and it typically caters for up to 5 people.
The disadvantage of using a solar cooker is that it can up to four times longer than a conventional oven to cook your food. But if you think that the food it cooks is healthier, cheaper (since no power is used) and it is portable, that extra time should not be such a big issue.
Solar Water Heating:
Solar water heating has a number of uses, and thanks to technological developments, modern solar water heating systems can be used at home to completely replace conventional boilers or geysers.
With a modern solar water heater, solar collectors are filled with a conductive type of anti-freeze that heats up in the sun, As this gel heats up, it flows through narrow tubes in a cylinder, where the heat is transferred to the water. And so you get hot water.
Passive Solar Design:
Over half of a household’s power bill is spent just on heating and ventilation. So it crazy how few people think of trying passive solar living to save power and ultimately money.
Passive solar design is the strategic use of the sun’s energy to heat, light and ventilate your home naturally. For example, having a home that faces the sun, that has large, low-emissivity windows, and that is built from heat-retaining materials will tend to be naturally warmer in winter.
With the right placement of windows and mirrors and even white walls in your home, sunlight can be effectively used to light your home, instead of you having to resort to electric lights.
A natural air conditioning solution would be to plant deciduous trees on the sun-facing side of your home. This would provide cool shade in summer, but allow warm sunlight though in winter.
For free ventilation, you could make use of a solar chimney or solar attic fan, where hot, stale air is sucked out of the home and replaced with cool, fresh air from outside.
Solar Electric Power:
More accurately called photovoltaic power, this is the most commonly known way to solar power your home. For this system to work properly, a number solar panels need to be facing the sun to produce electricity.
As the sun’s rays penetrate the solar panels, electrons in the cells become charged, creating a current that is stored in deep-cycle batteries. When electricity is needed, the stored power is passed through an inverter to change the DC to AC, which can then be used to power various household appliances or connected to the grid for net metering.
The good thing about solar power is that as long the sun is shining, you will get free power, technology is bringing down the costs and there is little effect on the environment. What’s more is, if you cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars on an expert system, you can learn to build your own solar panel system for a tenth of the price.
With these four ways on how to solar power your home, there is no need for you to rely on the utility companies or the government for heating and lighting at home. Right now it is very possible for us to use solar power at home. It is just a matter of everyone having the determination, energy consciousness and environmental awareness to take action and harness the sun’s free, natural power.