Slowly but surely, people’s consciousness are turning green. The effects of global warming are quickly getting apparent; the dwindling of the planets natural resources, the increasing levels of pollutants in the air, and the rising costs of generating energy. There are, however, solutions to this problem. More and more people now are considering green energy to be a viable, self-sustaining energy source. That is why numerous new houses are being built, and many more old houses are being turned into solar\homes. But just what is a solar home? |
The Two Types of Solar Homes
A solar home is a house that utilizes the sun’s energy either to a) use the sun’s natural warmth to regulate the indoor temperature of the house and to provide natural lighting and b) harness the sun’s rays to generate clean electricity. There are generally two types of solar homes, although the most recent designs are basically a combination, or a hybrid, of the two types.
Passive Solar Homes
Passive solar homes are the ones who utilize the sun’s natural energy to regulate indoor temperatures and to provide natural lighting. The design is fairly simple and does not require a person to have solar panels and back-up batteries installed in the house. Their main design features are large windows facing the south side of the house. Just doing this regulates the indoor temperature of the house, keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter. Other design aspects of passive solar homes are better insulation, to keep the warmth in, and special windows that don’t allow that much heat exchange between the interior and exterior of the house. One great benefit the owners of passive solar homes get is the wide open spaces, especially on the south side of the house.
Active Solar Homes
Active solar homes, on the other hand, use the sun’s natural energy to generate its own power. Designing this kind of house is a bit more complicated and does require a whole lot of kind of expensive electronics and equipment. Solar panels, inverters, back up batteries, are just some of the equipment needed to convert a house to use purely solar energy. However, the benefits of having a house generate its own electricity do outweigh the costs involved.
A Comparison of the Costs and Possible Savings
Building a house that uses solar energy or renovating an existing house to use solar energy can definitely be costly. Back when the harnessing of solar energy was in its infancy, the costs of building a solar-powered house made it impractical. But the development of the technology and the emergence of new technologies have made building solar homes cheaper and much more cost effective.
A recent study of the costs involved in building solar homes, or to be more accurate, converting existing homes into solar homes, shows that a person may spend up to $48,000. This figure already includes material and labor to build a house that can generate 6kW of power, with an 8kW back-up battery system that is enough to provide the house uninterrupted power for 3 days.
Given that the average American household will spend an average of $6,000 a year for electricity bills, it will only take a little over seven years for people to get their investment back. After that, the house’s electricity is free for life.
An added benefit of solar homes is that during peak sun hours, the house can generate so much electricity that it can feed power into the grid. This means that not only does the house use free electricity; it earns money by giving its excess power to the power company.
With today’s technology, going “green” doesn’t mean people will have to learn to live in wood burning cabins just to have heat. The costs of building a solar home has significantly gone down. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see solar homes to be a standard in the near future.
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