Put the sun to work for you

Using solar energy can cut energy costs.
The sun shows up every day like a good employee. Right on time, well rested, ready to work. Yet, many of us overlook the ways the sun can help us increase energy efficiency, reduce costs and take advantage of one of our most precious natural resources. Want to add the sun to your payroll? Consider these ideas.
  • Solar thermal systems. Love the idea of saying goodbye to your electric bill? Consider a solar thermal system, which captures the sun's heat and converts it to electricity for use throughout your home. Available in both passive and active systems, including the photovoltaic systems with heat-catching panels on rooftops that you may have seen by now, solar thermal systems are changing at a dramatic rate-becoming smaller, easier to install and able to produce more electricity. Many users of solar thermal systems actually sell electricity back to their power company! Gotta' love it. See this list of solar thermal system installers.

  • Solar water heaters. Hot water heaters are greedy energy-users. Why not use the sun to heat your water? There are a variety of options that heat the water in several different ways, including through tankless coils and with pumped heated air. New advances in this technology mean you're less likely to run out of hot water than with earlier models, so if you were turned off to solar water heaters for this reason, give them another look. Check out these water heater installers.

  • Energy-saving construction. If you're building a new home or remodeling your existing home, consider the effect the sun has on your energy use. Big, south-facing windows in Southern climates mean that your home is going to sizzle at the hottest times of the day and require your air conditioner to run overtime. On the other hand, thoughtfully-placed windows that bring in natural light but avoid direct exposure during the heat of the day will help you to use the sun in a more efficient way. Eco-conscious builders and remodelers can show you many other ways to design your home with the sun, and other environmental influences, in mind.

  • Interior design. From choosing paint colors that reflect light to using window coverings that take into account the changing effect of the sun on your home's comfort level throughout the day, experienced interior designers can help you find solutions that improve your home's energy efficiency.

  • Landscaping. Let's not forget one of the things the sun does best-it helps plants grow. A environmentally-friendly landscape designer can help you choose trees, shrubs and other vegetation to reduce the effect of the sun's heat on your home. Have a large area of your yard that's pure sun from morning 'til night? Perhaps that's the perfect spot for an organic vegetable garden, a wildlife-loving pond or a chemical-free pool. Find environmentally-friendly landscapers and pool installers here.

  • Home security. Solar thermal systems and water heaters may be outside your budget right now, but that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of some of the many new solar options in the marketplace. How about solar lights for around your house? You can find solar walkway lights, solar floodlights, and solar garden ornaments that cast light throughout the night. Not only are all these options affordable, easy to install and maintenance-free (no more climbing that ladder to change the floodlight!), but they help to improve your home security by providing additional outdoor light that deters burglars. What's more, they reduce the chances of people tripping or otherwise injuring themselves outdoors in the dark. Anecdotal evidence shows that solar lights in the garden may also keep away bunnies and other critters who want to nibble the lettuces! See these home security experts who can help in many more ways.

Popular on Kudzu

  1. How much could I pay for carpet cleaning?
  2. DIY Network Video: Easy Garage Door Check-up
  3. Video: How do I choose a garage door?
  4. How much does it cost to install new gutters?
  5. Incredible Lighting in 4 Steps

ENJOY THIS ARTICLE? Sign up for more articles, tips and savings

From Our Experts

  • Shingles: The Top Four Choices

    For every part of the roof's complex assembly, from soffits and sheathing, to flashing...

Kudzu Category Sponsors