Residential Solar Power or Saving Energy at Home?

Saving the Environment and Your Home Energy Bills

A positive outcome from the COP15 convention is an increased public awareness to the urgent need to reduce air and water pollution and to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. The two tier approach at the national level and at the individual level, is to cut energy use and to replace polluting energy sources with clean energy production. For the homeowner, it can translate to saving energy at home, using residential solar power generation and solar thermal heating.

Residential Solar Power Generation

The possibility to own a residential solar power generator appeals to many homeowners. One obvious advantage to having this technology installed is a reduced dependency on the power utility by having an autonomous power generator. The other less obvious advantage is that this technology buys an “insurance policy” from the ever increasing electricity cost predicted to rise dramatically in coming years.

For off-grid homes, off grid solar, off-grid wind turbines and off-grid micro-hydro turbines provide a better solution than diesel generators.
The distinct disadvantage is the amount of time it takes to return the upfront investment; luckily, energy tax credits are available in many countries and states. Some European countries legislated a generous price for surplus electricity the household feeds back into the grid, thus providing an income source to offset the initial capital investment. Solar loans and leasing models are available in certain countries and states. Before committing to a home solar generator, reap the low hanging fruit – the cheapest energy is the energy you did not waste.

Saving Energy at Home

There are many energy saving tips that can substantially reduce the energy bills of the family. They require low to medium investment and allow for fast payback while not affecting the standard of living. The saving opportunities are in the areas of


  • Lighting: natural day light and more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs

  • Cooling and Heating

  • Using more efficient appliances

  • Domestic water heating and swimming pool heating

  • The family transportation: use low fuel consumption cars, car pools, use public transportation


Solar Thermal

Solar thermal systems make use of the greenhouse effect to directly convert the sun's radiation photons in the visible range to heat (photons in the infrared range). This technology is mature, efficient and very cost effective. The investment in solar thermal systems is relatively low (compared to solar electric systems) and the payback time is usually less than 4 years. The two main applications are solar hot water heaters and solar space heaters. Solar thermal systems are very effective in the sunny regions; by using more sophisticated, yet not expensive systems such as evacuated tube collectors, solar heaters can practically be used in almost every populated region.

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As the prices of solar electricity continues to decrease, more and more home owners are turning to residential solar energy to decrease their electricity use and save on the increasing costs of energy.

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