Now is a great time to take advantage of the solar energy options available to you. Solar energy systems for homes include: passive solar, solar water heating, solar voltaic electricity, and thermal mass heat storage. Solar energy is free (so far), and you can reap some tax benefits by installing qualified solar energy systems into your home.
The simplest way to benefit from free solar energy is to design your house to maximize it’s exposure to sunlight in the winter and minimize your house’s exposure in the summer. Large, south facing windows will capture a lot of solar heat during bright winter days, and if you cover the windows with drapes you will minimize the heat lost during the night. Installed floor tiles or hardwood floors will act as heat sinks, absorbing the warmth during the day and radiating it into the room at night.
Many home owners can furnish all of their required hot water with a rooftop solar collector. A simple panel with water circulating through it during the day will absorb enough heat for most domestic requirements. You can also heat a swimming pool with a solar collector and cut your energy usage tremendously. If you live in an area with unreliable sunshine, then you will need a back-up standard water heater, but don’t let the area in which you live prevent you from harnessing all the free solar energy that you can.
Solar photovoltaic cells can drastically reduce the amount of electricity that you need to buy from your local electric company. Solar photovoltaic cells convert solar energy directly into electricity, which you can store in batteries for future use, or sell to the electric company, reducing your energy bill even more. The technology involved with photovoltaic cells is improving all the time, and is becoming more efficient and cost effective. The greatest drawback to installing a solar photovoltaic system is the initial cost. But, with energy tax credits and incentives offered by suppliers, the cost is lessened and makes financial sense for more and more home owners.
A newer solar energy system gaining support is concentrated solar. Using mirrors or reflective lenses to concentrate sunlight on a super absorbent liquid, heating it to a high temperature which is then used to spin a turbine or operate a heat engine, concentrated solar systems show a lot of promise. The primary research is for commercial applications, but the thought is that individual homeowners will also be able to use the technology soon.
Of course, you can always use the old fashioned solar energy collection system, where trees capture the sunlight, convert it into cellulose (wood) which then can be burned in your fireplace, providing heat and light.