Soak up the Sun: 4 Options for Solar Power

Do you want to go green? Turns out there are more ways to harness solar power than most people realize. We’re taking a look at the different ways to harness the power of the sun itself for better living.

Photovoltaic Systems

Photovoltaic (PV) systems are what most people think of when they think of solar power. These are the “solar panels” that convert the sun’s energy into electricity. You install them in a place that the sun frequently shines. As the panels absorb sunlight, they convert it into an electrical current that is distributed throughout your home’s electrical system.

Some people worry that solar panels will look unsightly on their home, but there are now several options for homeowners. For example, Tesla’s Solar Roof is a solar panel option that allows you to integrate panels into your roof for a seamless appearance. These panels have off-grid reliability using the Powerwall home battery, which means you may even have power during grid outages.

Passive Solar Building Design

Passive solar power options are the perfect choice for someone that is designing their home with solar energy in mind. Homes built with passive solar technology use special materials and design techniques to take advantage of sunlight. Doors, windows, walls, and floors can absorb, store, and release the sun’s warmth when temperatures are low. Most of the materials involved also diminish solar heat in summer, which can help keep your house comfortable during all seasons. Passive solar design is usually part of new construction, but it’s possible to retrofit old buildings to take advantage of it.

Buy Solar Power

In some parts of the country, you can choose how your energy is generated. If you can’t afford to install solar panels, you may be able to buy solar power from your utility company. You pay a little extra, to basically subsidize the cost of your energy company’s solar investment. It’s the simplest way for someone to buy solar power without having a significant cost up front. The only issue is that not all utility companies may offer this choice. You can call your utility company and ask if they offer green pricing programs, which allow you to purchase all of your power from renewable energy sources.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar panels can be very expensive, especially if you need to pay someone to install them. Even if it is environmentally-friendly, the time it takes to recover the cost means that it’s not worth it for everyone. Another option is a solar thermal water heating system. These systems can be used to heat a swimming pool or even provide hot water throughout the home.

Still, this is an older technology, and it might not be worth it. Since solar thermal systems usually hook up to your plumbing system rather than the electrical system, you usually have to figure the cost into the overall price of constructing a new home. And as solar panels get less expensive, it might be easier just to rig panels up to your heating system.

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