3 easy ways to take advantage of solar power
As the average retail price of electricity for American homeowners increased nearly 40 percent in the last 10 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, costing homeowners hundreds of dollars on utility bills. One way homeowners can save is by taking advantage of appliances that use renewable solar energy.
While full-blown residential solar installations are cost-prohibitive for many people, recent technology that integrates solar power with traditional household appliances is making it easier for homeowners to harness the power of the sun without breaking the bank.
Here are three practical and cost-effective solar-powered solutions for today’s homes:
Solar-Powered Air Conditioning.The bulk of a home’s energy costs, up to 56 percent, go toward heating and cooling a home. The first-of-its-kind SunSource Home Energy System from Lennox is a solar-powered central heating and cooling system that uses energy from the sun, collected from roof-mounted solar modules, to reduce the electricity consumed by a residential heat pump or air conditioner. When the heating and cooling system is not in use, the solar energy can operate other appliances and electronics. Any excess energy that’s not needed is sent back to the utility company, possibly entitling the homeowner to a credit.
Solar Water Heating.Americans spend more than $13 billion a year on energy for household water heating, which accounts for almost one-fourth of the total energy used in a single-family home. Solar water heating systems, which feature water storage tanks and solar collectors, offer the biggest potential savings to homeowners, as they can save between 50 and 80 percent on water heating bills. In addition to solar water heaters for the home, many homeowners are turning to solar swimming pool heaters that can save money, extend the swimming season and give the owner more control over water temperature.
Outdoor Solar Lighting. Outdoor solar lighting systems are easy to install and operate at no cost because they essentially provide free electricity. They use solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. The electricity is then stored in batteries that power the lights at night. Some solar lighting systems are self-contained units, and only need to be placed in a sunny location. Others have the lights separate from a solar cell panel. In this case, only the panel needs to be placed in a sunny location.
Read more about solar power.
Companies: Lennox Industries