Solar Basics

A few basic guides to get you started on solar and home efficiency:

Solar Hot Water Heating

solar thermalIn most parts of the world, the best return for your solar energy investment is with domestic solar water heating (DSWH).

A complete DSWH system can be installed for $4,000 to $7,000, depending on its size, complexity and the climate.

Solar hot water systems come in two flavors: passive and active. In warm climates, a simple passive system can provide plenty of hot water.


Solar Electric Systems

pvPhotovoltaic (PV) technology produces electricity from sunlight, using solid-state materials with no moving parts.

For residential application, PV falls into two main categories. First is grid-tied, where the home generates its own electricity but can also draw power from the utility company at night. The second is off-grid, where the  home must generate its own power, storing energy in batteries for use at night.


Active Solar Air Heating

solar hot air heaterA more DIY approach, solar air heaters, while not commonplace, are a tried and true technology.

A kit costs around $1,500, or make one yourself by getting the materials at a local hardware store.


Energy Efficiency Basics

home-efficiencyIt’s cheaper to save energy than to make energy.

If you want to offset $100 a month in utility bills, the right place to start is by looking at your current home.


Passive Solar Building

passivesolarDesign with natural energy flows to improve home efficiency.

Basic passive solar heating and cooling is free if implemented during design, and the enhanced systems usually pay for themselves in a few years.


Wind System Basics

windAn intriguing technology that converts the kinetic energy in the moving wind to useful electricity.

Wind power is collected and converted by the rotor, so the single most important characteristic of the turbine is its rotor size.


Ground Source Heat and Cooling Basics

gshpGround-source heat-pump (GSHP) heating and cooling, often called a geo-exchange or geothermal system, is an efficient way to keep a house comfortable.

A GSHP system can save 50 to 60 percent on a typical home heating bill.


Working with an Installer

installerSolar energy technologies are simple, but installing an array is a complex job, calling for both technical expertise and the ability to navigate the thicket of permits and incentives to get your project approved and financed.


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