Solar power is an important natural resource that we can use more often, as we embrace a thrifty and sustainable lifestyle.
You don’t need to know a lot about solar energy to make the most of it and you don’t need to spend a fortune. There are solar panels for every budget – they sell them in Poundland (yes, they cost £1).
The sun’s energy is unlimited and free to use. Did you know that the amount of solar energy that hits Earth in one hour, is equal to the amount of energy used in one year by our entire planet!
Imagine if we could get better at harnessing all that free, environmentally-friendly energy. We could be using it to power all of our gadgets, to heat our homes, or to fuel our cars. Things would be very different, bills would be much cheaper and our planet would have a healthier environment for longer.
Turning sunshine into electricity
We can collect some of the sun’s energy using PV (Photovoltaic) cells. PV cells allow the photons of light in sunshine, to excite the electrons in the PV cell and cause them to flow – which generates electricity. PV solar panels are the ones that you see used all over the world to help to power homes and communities, they also help to power street lamps and parking meters. Lots of the surplus electricity created by PV solar panels is fed back into the national electricity grid for everybody to use.
Solar panels will soon be much cheaper
There are new developments in solar panel technology which will increase the effectiveness of the panels and also make the panels much cheaper – which is fantastic news.
An Australian company called Dyesol are developing a new version, the Perovskite Solar Cell, which should be available commercially from 2017.
If you would like to read more about this technology, Wikipedia do a great job of explaining it all here: Perovskite Solar Cells
Making money from Solar Panels
You may have noticed that more and more houses in your local area (with a south-facing roof) have solar panels.
These lucky homeowners will not only be benefiting from free, sustainable electricity but they are also able to sell any surplus electricity back to the national grid, for a nice chunk of extra income each year.
The initial set-up can be expensive (£5,000 – £8,000), although there are government schemes in place to help with the cost. Solar Panels should be considered as a long-term investment.
The government have recently reduced the amount of money that you can make by selling your surplus electricity in the UK, but let’s all hope that they see sense and make alternative energy an attractive option for everyone.
There is a really good Money Saving Expert article about making money from Solar Panels here: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/free-solar-panels
Also, Which have a great overall guide which breaks down different Solar Panel options: http://www.which.co.uk/energy/creating-an-energy-saving-home/guides/how-to-buy-solar-panels/
If solar panels on your roof are not an option, why not look into all the other ways that you can use solar power to save money on your energy bill.
Solar Power in the home
There are many ways to use the sun to create free electricity in your home, each way will save you money in the long run and will help the environment. Why not search the internet for a solar-powered phone charger, tablet charger or a laptop charger. Use solar-powered fairy lights around your window or use solar panel garden lamps. There are a few suggestions at the bottom of this post.
For a very simple way to use the sun’s energy instead of paying for electricity… dry your wet clothes outside in the sunshine, instead of using a tumble dryer.
If you fancy a DIY project with a difference, why not have a go at creating a sun oven – a way to cook food using the power of the sun. This is definitely a project for a hot and sunny day!
Here are the step-by-step instructions: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-and-Use-a-Solar-Oven
There are so many ways to use the sun to save money on your energy bill and to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Why not google ‘using solar energy’ or ‘solar power’ or ‘renewable energy’ or ‘alternative energy in the home’ to get more inspiration.
Please feel free to share your solar-powered or alternative energy tips in the comments section below.
How will you start using solar power?
A few self-sufficient, thrifty or off-the-grid selections, including Solar Panel Chargers. Toys and tools that I’m saving up for!
If you would like to receive Thrifty Sustainability updates by email when a new article is added, please subscribe here: