Solar homes. Many people talk about them, although few in the U.S. do more than talk. They are said to reduce utility bills. Some say a solar home cuts utility bills drastically. Some are able to sell excess power back to the power grid. Savings are not automatic, however. Steps must be taken to make the solar home efficient; to conserve the electricity that is produced.
Ways to conserve solar photovoltaic power in the home must be found. The home owner must actively seek out ways to make those photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof as efficient as possible. Photovoltaic power is free, but it cannot be generated in unlimited quantities. It is important to take measures to use it to best advantage.
Of all the ways to conserve solar photovoltaic power in the home, the most important is probably replacement of power-gobbling electric appliances. Home lighting can also be changed to conserve solar photovoltaic power (PV power). Finally, power usage can be reduced by making every person in the solar home conscious of conservation methods.
12 Ways to Conserve Solar Photovoltaic Power in the Home
1. Shop for energy-efficient appliances and home electronics for your solar home. Most products in this category carry EnergyGuide labels. These labels give an estimate of the products’ energy consumption or energy efficiency, and show the ratings of similar appliance models. In the U.S., appliances and home electronics that meet strict Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) energy efficiency criteria carry Energy Star labels.
2. Replace an electric water heater in a solar home with an energy-efficient propane or natural gas heater. Connect the new water heater to a solar water heater system. The sun will preheat the water, and the new unit will have less work. Wrap the water heater with thermal wrap to retain heat.
3. Replace the solar home’s electric furnace with an energy-efficient propane or natural gas unit. Install a solar panel air heater to reduce the work load of the new furnace. If you are building a new solar home, consider passive ways to heat the floors and air, further reducing the workload.
4. If the solar home is in a hot, dry climate, use an evaporative cooling unit in place of an electric air conditioner.
6. Insulate the solar home well. Insulation will keep heat or cool air from escaping. It will also keep outdoor cold or heat from entering readily.
7. Use heavy, insulted drapes and window shades/blinds in the solar home to keep out hot or cold air, making cooling and heating units work more efficiently.
8. A serious solar home owner can save even further by using a solar oven for cooking whenever possible. Especially good in hot climates or summer months, a solar oven will cook food with solar energy, and avoid heating the home. Money is thus saved in two ways.
9. Control of computer usage is another of the many ways to conserve solar photovoltaic power in the home. Monitors should be turned off whenever the computer will not be in use for 20 minutes or more. The CPU and monitor both should be turned off when the unit will not be used for 2 hours or more. Power down or sleep modes should be set.
10. Replace light bulbs with Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs. If every U.S. home replaced just one light bulb with one of these bulbs, we would save more than $600 million in annual energy costs. To the solar home owner, such savings are vital.
11. Maximize your use of daylight, turning on lights only when necessary. Use windows to advantage, and install skylights where possible.
12. Landscape your property to block the heat of summer sunlight, permit winter sunlight. Deciduous trees near the solar home will shade windows in the summer, and let warming sunlight through in winter months.
Ways to conserve solar photovoltaic power in the home are not limited to these twelve, but if these alone are used, the increase in efficiency will be tremendous.