Greening the home is what a growing number of people are doing today. Thanks to ongoing campaigns by governments and environmental advocates to preserve the ecosystem and use renewable energy, consumers are now more aware of their responsibilities. By doing their share in preserving Mother Earth, parents are ensuring a good future for their children and the next generations to come.
Solar power is one form of renewable energy that’s being encouraged to be used in the home. However, cost of solar panels has not gone down to a very affordable level that will allow a greater number of homeowners to switch to using this natural energy.
If purchasing and installing solar panels is not an option for your, there are other ways you can use the sun’s energy in your home. Do it the passive way.
The passive method is collecting heat as the sun shines and retaining the energy through thermal mass. It is about taking advantage of the house’s location, climate and materials to lower energy consumption.
For outdoors, install solar-powered pathway lights. This kind of light is very cost effective and comes in different types for specific areas (patio decking, driveways and pathways).
Solar energy can also be used in heating water. This is ideal for use in swimming pools or hot tubs and can surely cut your heating costs as they are cheap to operate.
Those living in regions that enjoy much sun, the best way is to collect solar power is to let the sunshine in during the day. Open your drapes and let the sunlight get in through the windows. Just make sure that your glass is properly shaded to avoid overheating and improve cooling loads particularly during the spring and fall seasons. At nighttime especially during cold weather, your family can then enjoy the warmth indoors.
Using thermal mass is also very ideal. This refers to materials that can absorb the sun’s heat during the summer months and absorbs heat from warm air during the cold months. They include concrete, brick, stone and tile. Water and phase change products are also efficient in storing solar energy. Thermal mass works by absorbing heat during the day and releasing them at night.
In order to ensure energy efficiency in the home, other vital factors need to be taken into consideration. These include insulation and sealing, window glazing and sharing, location and type of thermal mass and use of additional heating and cooling systems. For those constructing a new home, these will have to be factored in by the architect or home designer.
Photos via mnn.com and
About the guest author:
Shannon is a freelance writer specializing in home improvement. Acknowledging the continued increase in electricity rates, she plans to increase her home’s solar power use to reduce their bills.