Solar Power Your Home For Dummies
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Using solar power in your home is inexpensive after the initial start-up costs. It also benefits the environment by reducing your carbon footprint. Here are some more reasons to consider investing in solar power for your home:

  • Erase your carbon footprint: Your carbon dioxide footprint is a measure of how much carbon dioxide you're releasing into the environment based on your energy-consuming habits. A typical American carbon dioxide footprint is around 36,000 pounds (18 tons) per year.

  • Enjoy solar's unlimited supply: At sea level, on a sunny, clear day, 1 kWh of sunlight energy is falling onto a 1-square-meter surface per hour. Over the course of a sunny day, you can realistically expect to capture around 6 kWh of total energy from this same surface area. That's 180 kWh per month. Five square meters is enough to completely replace a typical monthly power bill! (If only it was so easy.)

  • Exercise your legal rights to sunlight: You have a legal right to demand that your neighbors remove trees and other impediments to your solar access. Check with your local governments to see what sorts of laws apply to your specifics.

  • Appreciate solar energy's versatility: You can use solar energy in many ways, each with different costs and complexity:

    • Generate electricity for general use: Install a solar electric generating system that allows you to reduce your electric bills to zero.

    • Cook: Easy-to-build solar ovens and heaters can help you put dinner on the table.

    • Practice passive space heating: The sun can heat your house by strategic use of blinds, awnings, and sunrooms.

    • Heat water: Use solar energy to heat your domestic water supply or let sun-warmed water heat your house.

    • Heat your swimming pool: You can cover your pool with a solar blanket to heat it cheaply and efficiently.

    • Add landscape lighting: You can put small, inexpensive solar lights around your yard and eliminate the need for lighting powered by the utility company.

    • Provide indoor lighting: The technological boom in light-emitting diodes has enabled a number of effective solar lighting systems for in-home use with very low power requirements.

    • Power remote dwellings: You can completely power a remote cabin, RV, or boat with solar.

  • Gain independence from fossil fuel sources: In the United States, domestic supplies of fossil fuels are dwindling, and demand cannot be met at the current rate of consumption growth. Even if new reserves exceed expectations, supply and demand are going to be unbalanced. Solar power is domestically produced, and every kWh of solar energy that we produce reduces our demand for foreign oil sources by the same amount.

  • Eliminate peak power grid problems: In the summertime, on a hot day, air-conditioners run non-stop. The highest demands come in the late afternoon, when the heat of the day is most intense. In some cases, the utilities simply cannot provide the amount of power that their customers demand, resulting in brownouts. Solar power systems generate their maximum outputs during the afternoons, when the sun is shining the brightest. Therefore, solar is a perfect solution to the peak power problems that are becoming more and more common across the country.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Rik DeGunther is the founder of Efficient Homes, an energy auditing and consulting firm. He holds a BS in Engineering Physics and dual Masters degrees in Applied Physics and Engineering Economic Systems. Rik is also the author of Energy Efficient Homes For Dummies and Alternative Energy For Dummies.

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