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3 Solar Energy Options for Your Home

3 Solar Energy Options for Your Home

Have you ever considered harnessing the power of the sun to save on your energy consumption? Solar technology is constantly improving, and there are many ways solar can be a part of your home. Check out these three options.

1. Build a Simple Solar Heater

A solar hot-air collector built into new construction or added to an existing building can be an easy and inexpensive heating solution. The low-cost plan in Build a Simple Solar Heater lets you turn any south wall into a source of free heat. On sunny winter days, this collector raises interior temperatures to between 60 and 75 degrees.

2. Heat Your Water with Solar

Solar water heaters are the simplest entry into renewable energy. About 15 to 20 percent of a home’s energy goes to heating the hot water you use. For information about a low-maintenance solar system, see Go Solar for Free Hot Water.

3. Install Thin-Film Solar Panels

With superefficient peel-and-stick PV sheets, solar power is better than ever. These thin panels (see photo above) can go right on your roof and help significantly with your home’s energy consumption. See Easy Solar Power for information on how thin PV sheets work and how you can install them on your home.

Of course, each of these solar options has an up-front cost—but they will pay for themselves over time with the money you save on energy bills. Plus, they all help reduce your environmental impact. Finally, solar is just plain cool! If you use any solar systems at home, please tell us about them in the comments section below.

Photo by Cheryl Long

Related: 5 Ways to Green Your Home This Year, Couple Runs Electric Car on Solar Power and Harvest Rain with Solar Power

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Shelley Stonebrook

Shelley Stonebrook is an Associate Editor at Mother Earth News—North America’s most popular magazine about sustainable, self-reliant living—where she works on exciting projects such as Organic Gardening content and the Vegetable Garden Planner. Shelley is particularly interested in organic gardening, small-scale, local food production, waste reduction, food preservation and cooking. In her spare time, she posts in her personal blog, The Rowdy Radish.

39 comments

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12:02AM PDT on May 30, 2013

Thank you for the education.

1:29PM PST on Nov 5, 2012

Great choice of tips for home solar energy.This is second year as i am using solar panels for hot water and i must say ROI is much quicker than i thought.

4:33AM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

We have a passive solar heated home...Our home is at 74F in the winder. We added solar hot water and solar electric with a battery back up in 2001. This Spring we added 7.2 KW of photovoltaics. Our electric bill is $2.20 : )

8:12AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

good tips

1:28AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

Great stuff. Dad has always thought of going solar-I forwarded this to him to give him more ideas as he redoes the famrhouse and considers other farm buildings.

5:46PM PST on Feb 10, 2012

Barbara D, Try "Microsine", it attaches to the backside of a solar module and you plug it in to an outlet and yes, it is safe and UL tested.

The module is mounted to a south facing railing, at about 35 degrees, I am assuming that you live in the southern part of the US.

5:32PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

We also use the solar panel in the country place. So far we only have one quite small,but it has been a great help,cause we do not have the electricity there.Working well,but we are not using the place in the wintertime.

11:28AM PST on Feb 7, 2012

Thanks

3:57AM PST on Feb 7, 2012

They should be included in the building of all new houses.

3:06AM PST on Feb 7, 2012

Thank you.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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