Gas prices may have hit a major low in the past few months, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be on the rise again in a few years; there’s only so much oil on our planet, and as the environmental impacts of being reliant on oil become clearer and in more urgent need of change, it’s going to become increasingly expensive to keep pumping out the cornerstone of our global economy.
That means the earlier you convert to alternative forms of energy, the better off you’ll be when prices sky rocket as they undoubtedly will. There are a variety of options available to you, but perhaps your best option on the market today is solar power. There are also clap powered appliances. Tesla owners are already using solar energy to charge their cars and Solar City has been installing solar power systems for years.
To build an entirely passive solar house or invest in an extensive solar retrofit for your existing home is on a generally unattainable side of the spectrum at this point in time, but there are comparatively simple and inexpensive solar add-on options that you can start using today. The best way to incorporate solar energy into an otherwise conventionally powered home is to set up solar panels so that solar energy can supplement your existing heating system, effectively installing a solar air heater.
What is a solar air heater? It’s an active energy system as opposed to a passive energy system, meaning that opposed to it relying on heat absorbing structural materials, solar air heaters use solar panels to collect solar energy and fans to move the energy to a separate place. If you install the heater in a place where it can blow or diffuse warm air directly into a room that is often used, the air heater will pull cool air from the bottom of the room, circulate it through the part of the solar collector where heat is gathered, and then blow the warmed air back into the room. It’s not the kind of system that will keep a two story house cozy during the winter, but it can help to supplement expensive heating systems that could use a boost without creating an enormous utilities bill.
Solar collectors can be mounted on rooftops, walls, and windows to heat the air that passes through them. It’s best to mount them on south-facing roofs or walls to ensure that they get plenty of sun exposure. Be sure they’re not obstructed by trees or shade-causing objects.
What’s awesome about these kinds of solar heaters is that they’re possible to install without adding ducts or vents to your home. The drawback is that this direct-transfer system won’t work at night time or on cloudy days; they can’t store heat in any way.
There are larger systems that use heat sinks, but these are more expensive and involve a more arduous set up. Still, the warm air that they can create during cold nights may just make them worth it. Just keep in mind that the moisture that collects in heat sinks can sometimes foster mold and bacterial growth within the system.