With the rising costs of electricity and concerns about our carbon footprints, the uptake of solar energy has witnessed an unprecedented boom in recent years. Australia’s renewable energy generation rose from 3.9% in 2018 to 9.3% in 2019, with this upward trend expected to continue. No longer just a ‘green dream’, solar energy can now easily be harvested to provide both warmth and light to our homes. So let’s have a look at some of the best and most efficient ways to use solar energy around the home.
- Solar pool heating
Pools are one of the best things you can have in your backyard; however, no one wants to jump into freezing cold water. This is where solar heating mats come in handy. They are custom-fitted to your roof where they absorb the heat of the sun. Water is then pumped through it and back into the pool again, continually heating up throughout the process.
Solar pool heating can greatly reduce the cost of keeping your pool warm, with it being a much more affordable option than both gas and heat pump pool heaters. They also have very low operating costs and are easy and quick to install. Having a solar heating pool allows you and your family to responsibly and affordably maintain a warm and welcoming pool throughout the summer.
- Solar powered ventilation fans
Ventilation fans are widely-used as they reduce air conditioning costs by exhausting hot air from small, heat-prone areas. Self-contained ventilation fans that are solely powered by a panel of photo-electric cells are becoming an increasingly popular option.
They can operate a fan motor with no household electrical current needed at all, increasing their capacity for cost-reduction and energy efficiency. They’re perfect for small spaces such as garages, sheds and dog houses.
- Outdoor solar lights
Outdoor solar lights absorb solar cells during the day and store this electrical energy in special batteries. At night, these batteries power the light and provide your garden or outdoor entertainment area with a luminous glow.
Improvements in LED technology and improved batteries mean that solar powered outdoor lights can last throughout the night and supply a strong and bright shine, all without you having to install expensive and disruptive underground circuit wiring.
- Solar electricity
Using solar electricity to power your home has gained a lot of momentum recently, thanks to the increased affordability of solar panels and interest in its financial and environmental benefits. Solar panels are installed on the roof, lined with polycrystalline silicon which generates electricity when reacting to sunlight. This is used to power your home, and any excess electricity needed is rerouted to your electric grid.
While it’s expensive to install, there are several government rebates available and studies have shown that it only takes between 6 and 8 years to recoup your investment through energy cost savings.
- Solar cooker
Solar cookers are an increasingly popular phenomenon and are especially useful when camping and cooking outdoors. It works like a slow cooker and uses angled reflections that focus the sun’s rays into a cooking chamber.
Pre-assembled solar cookers are available online, or you can have some fun with it and attempt to make your own.
- Solar-powered charger
Solar-powered chargers for your smartphone or tablet are a great way to slowly decrease your energy consumption over time.
While it may seem like a lot of effort to save only a small amount of energy, studies have shown that charging our digital devices has a much bigger effect than we realise. They’re an affordable, simple and fun way to do your bit in every way you can.
Utilising the power of solar energy is only becoming more and more affordable and achievable, and any of these options are a great way to get started. Whether you’re looking to go all the way and install solar panels or just want to experiment with something smaller, every little bit of renewable energy counts.