Solar power is an interesting prospect for many homeowners. On the one hand, it is environmentally friendly and the idea of a smaller carbon footprint is attractive to many. On the other hand, a whole-home solar system is very expensive relative to the payoff. Even with a $30,000 investment in a base solar unit, it is likely that the system will only provide about 20 to 30 percent of the power your home needs. That being said, there are some creative – and relatively inexpensive – ways to use the power of the sun in your home.
Turn off those electrical lights, and add some natural sunlight to your home with tubular skylights. Generally costing less than $600, these lights are an inexpensive solar lighting option for indoors. Much like skylights, they are easy to install. The ambitious “do-it-yourselfer” can put them in, yet they look like regular light fixtures from the inside.
Light a garden path, an entry-way or driveway with solar outdoor lights. At less than $10 each, pathway and garden lights use only the power of the sun to light up your yard at night. For around $20 to $30, floodlights can add security and lighting to driveways and entries.
Even pool heating can go solar. An un-glazed solar pool collector gathers the sun’s heat during the day. The pool’s pump circulates this collected heat throughout the pool keeping it comfortably warm, even as nights begin to cool in late summer to early fall. The best part is these solar collectors roll up at the end of the season and can be used year after year.
Keeping the attic cool can help reduce the electricity being used by air conditioning units. Many homes use electric attic fans to accomplish this, however solar attic fans are available for about the same price as electric ones.
Keeping those electronic devices charged on the road is easier than ever, and can be accomplished without electricity. Solar battery chargers come in the form of solar backpacks, panels and charging units, and can be used with laptops, MP3 players and cell phones.
These inexpensive options for the home are a great way to enter the world of solar power. Without breaking the bank, you can reduce your energy usage with a little help from the sun.