By Dixie Somers
You’ve heard that using solar power at home can cut your utility bills, help you save money, and benefit the planet. But you might be thinking, “I don’t have the money or desire to install solar panels on my roof.”
Contrary to popular belief, expensive solar panels aren’t the only way that you can use solar power at home to help you protect the planet and cut energy costs—there are several other options for those who want a less-traditional route. As technology advances, we are seeing more innovative uses for solar power that are now becoming mainstream and commonplace.
So, if you aren’t crazy over the idea of having solar panels covering your roof, read on to learn about a few other ways you can enlist the help of solar power around your house.
Invest in a Solar Water Heater
Solar energy is clean and efficient. As fuel, its source is unlimited sunlight and emits nothing when converted to energy. Solar water heaters are essentially boxes that are topped by a sheet of transparent glass. Sunlight is let in and a portion of the heat is prevented from escaping. The bottom of the box houses a reflector that focuses sunlight on a metal tube that is positioned in the tank’s center. Black in color, the metal tube is able to absorb heat more easily. The tube can be filled with water or antifreeze. According to the professionals of Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating who specialize in hot water tank installation in Winnipeg, antifreeze transfers its heat to the water every time it’s recycled through the solar heater.
Thermal Storage Tubes
While solar storage tubes are primarily used in a greenhouse or garden, they can be creatively used to warm a room or space in your home. The cylinders are usually, tall, and made of fiberglass and can easily be filled with water and placed where they receive maximum exposure to sunlight. In the daytime, the solar tubes absorb and diffuse solar energy. At night, stored energy can be released as heat to warm a room or section of your home. As your budget allows, solar storage tubes can be designed and built to fit most any living space.
Install Tubular Skylights
Tubular skylights are ideal when it comes to lighting small spaces. Unless your home has a metal or tiled roof, installation can be fairly easy if you decide to do it yourself if you consider yourself a handyman or woman. On the other hand, cutting into your roof might be a job best left to the professionals who do it for a living. The installation process requires that a light collector be mounted on the roof, which allows sunlight to pass through a reflective tube to a diffuser where light is distributed. While energy efficient light-bulbs help to cut your energy bill, you can save even more energy by harnessing the power of the sun to light your home during the day with skylights.
Charge Your Electronics with Solar Power
For everyone with gadgets, charging your device is the bane of your existence—there’s never an outlet when you need one, you forgot your charger, the list of annoyances goes on and on. The good news is that if you constantly need to charge your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, there are innovative products on the market that can use solar power to charge your electronics. For products that take batteries, you can often find solar batteries if you search hard enough.
For other devices, there are amazing inventions like a foldable panel that you can place your phone on and let it charge in the sun, or a pod that connects to the window and plugs into your device—harnessing solar power from outside. Depending on your device and your preferences, there are plenty of solar-power charging devices that make it easy to get charged up no matter where you are. You may even want to consider investing in a solar generator that can be used for emergency situations, picnics, barbeques, camping and other times when you aren’t at home but need electricity.
Save Energy with a Solar Oven
There are special ovens that can heat food by capturing the sun’s rays. These ovens work by utilizing a system of glass and reflective materials where enough heat is stored and reflected to cook food at temperatures up to 350 degrees. A solar oven is a big energy and money-saver because it doesn’t need fuel to operate—which also makes it better for the environment. If you don’t think you need an oven outside, there are plenty of versions of these “solar cookers” that you can use for outside cooking to save on fuel, protect the planet, and cook your food using the power of the sun. Be aware that some solar ovens will take a little longer to get your food fully cooked than conventional ovens. However, it provides benefits as far as costs and protecting the environment from fumes that are released by conventional cookers.
As you can see, solar power is much more than big roof panels. There are a number of creative ways to use solar around your house because the technology is now available. Like millions of other people, you simply have to make the mental adjustment that it’s okay to live in a cleaner and healthier world. After all, with the advancements being made in solar power, this technology will undoubtedly be an integral part of our everyday lives in the near future.