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We are all becoming increasingly aware of the high environmental cost of using fossil fuels as a source of power, not to mention their limited supply. Solar energy currently tops the list of viable alternatives for a number of appealing reasons. Perhaps the main attraction of solar power is the fact that we can all use it in our daily lives to make a significant reduction of our carbon footprint. Just a million homes going off the grid and using solar power to supply their homes would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 4.3 million tons each year. That’s the equivalent of taking 850,000 cars off the road. Solar energy not only uses fewer natural resources than conventional energy, the manufacture of solar cells makes less than 15 percent of the carbon dioxide from a typical coal-fired power plant, so it makes sense to go solar.
There are a number of ways you can use solar energy in your house, and in addition to reducing your carbon footprint, you can also cut your energy bills by 50-70 percent. Solar panels made of photovoltaic cells convert the sunlight into energy that can be used around your house. They are easy to install and can be added to as your needs grow. The sun’s energy is converted to electricity through a modified grid system, which has a meter attached so that you can measure how much solar power you are using in comparison to conventional electricity, making it easy to see how much money you are saving. A typical photovoltaic cell can last up to 40 years with no maintenance other than a yearly clean.
So how can you benefit from solar power in your house? Solar energy has a wide range of practical and cost-cutting uses in a residential setting, as well as simply providing electricity including:
Solar pool heating systems heat pool water, thus extending the swimming season and eliminating pool heating costs. In the U.S., over 300,000 pools are heated by solar power.
Solar water heaters, coupled with radiant panel flooring can replace existing conventional water heaters, dramatically reducing utility bills by up to 85 percent.
Solar power can provide additional heat to any heating system by using hot air panels or a “solar wall”. This adds heat to the building directly during hours of sunlight.
Solar power can be used to power high-efficiency water pumps which can be linked directly to PV cells. The water can store in tanks for use on cloudy days or at night.