How to use Solar Powered Products to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

With rising gas and fuel prices seemingly never ending, it’s no wonder that more and more people are embracing the idea of a ‘self sufficient home’. Whilst you may be no stranger to this idea, it still may be a distant dream for many. It’s no secret that investing properly in energy efficient products can be an expensive investment, but when done correctly, and with the help of the right suppliers for your products, can massively help in making this unrealistic target a little more achievable, no matter what your budget is.

The question really to ask yourself is – how self sufficient do I really want to be? Do I want to rely on my home’s entire electric power from solar power? Or do I just want to invest in solar powered products so that I decrease how much electricity I use currently from the National Grid? It’s important to be clear from the outset; there will be nothing worse than an over (or under for that matter) investment and soon realising that you’ve put in too much/little time/effort into what you really wanted to achieve.



So what’s the best strategy to take? Do some research. There are literally thousands of articles, sites, blogs that document self sufficient home options, products, tactics and experiences. Have a look around for a blog from someone who’s done exactly what you want to do – from the smallest of lifestyle changes to full blown solar panel installations. Chances are they have already made all the mistakes you could possible make. Learn from others, and use their advice to help you work out what you really want.

Then have a look at websites that offer energy efficient, solar powered products. See what they have to offer. There are so many products that have now been tailored to use less electricity, or to utilise solar energy. You’ll soon be putting together a nice little shopping list – phone chargers that are powered by mini solar panels, hugely energy efficient led light bulbs (I heard recently that there are bulbs in production that will last up to 20 years in a domestic setting!), solar garden lights, etc…

Thinking of going all the way, and installing solar panels? This is truly the biggest investment you can make into turning your home into a self sufficient ‘entity’. There is a huge drawback to this and if you’ve done a little research you’ll see that it’s well documented the prices for installation are huge. The panels themselves don’t cost too much, well not in comparison to the installation and labour. So if you can’t afford this, but want to feed your house with energy via the sun, what’s the best thing to do? The answer: DIY solar panel kits. Over the course of a weekend you can update your home with this renewable energy solution.



The kits can range to suit any home type and power output. So if you’re looking to power a small cottage or a large town house, there will be a product that can be specifically tailored to match your energy use. And don’t be put off by the daunting task of installing them yourself. It won’t be the easiest task, but no rational person would think it would be (I hope!). These kits are made for those with little experience. Have a look online for people who have had a hand themselves, see how they succeeded and what problems they went through. Also you’ll be then aware if you do need any extra help for certain parts. Even if you do require the help of a professional for some of it, there’s no doubt you’ll still end up saving a lot of money than having them installed completely by a third party.

Embracing solar energy is a fantastic thing to do, but ensure you do it properly. Take the time to plan out what you want to achieve and then prepare how you’re going to go about doing it. If you can afford higher quality products do it. Solar technology is like any other type of technology; the more you spend the better quality product you’ll receive, and the more energy you will produce. Don’t be lead into a ‘false economy’, and buy products that cost less but don’t help you save any more money. And most of all, go forth and be green!



Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Geothermal energy is one of the most efficient forms of renewable energy, and can be effectively used for heating and air conditioning of a single family home, as well as large apartment and office buildings. A Geothermal heating and cooling system will work day and night, in the summer and in the winter. It does not need sun or wind to operate, and the efficiency of a geothermal system is much higher than solar panels. All you need to operate a geothermal heating and cooling system is a relatively small amount of electricity to operate a water pump and a fan.

How geothermal heating and cooling works:

A geothermal heat system uses a geothermal heat pump and a ground source heat exchanger to extract the earth’s thermal energy and combine it with thermal energy produced by the heat pump itself, to increase efficiency. The ground temperature below the freeze zone (about 6 feet below ground) is constantly at about 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, which means in the summer it is way below the ambient temperature, and in the winter its way above the outside temperature. By combining geothermal energy with the thermal energy  produced by the geothermal heat pump, you achieve the efficiency of about 3 times more than a conventional heating or cooling system.




 

In a nutshell, here is the very basic setup of a geothermal heating and cooling system: A ground source heat exchanger is buried into the ground – either as loops in a trench of 6-9 feet deep, or into a bore hole or a well of 300-500 feet deep. A heat exchanger can also be placed in a large enough body of water, but this and other setups are not as common, so we will skip them for now.

The water pump circulates the heat exchange liquid (a form of antifreeze) through the ground source heat exchanger loops, bringing the geothermal energy to the heat exchanger inside a  geothermal heat pump. Meanwhile, a heat pump (which essentially works as an Air Conditioner, but in forward and reverse modes) produces the needed hot or cold air, which is combined in the heat exchanger with the earth thermal energy, and then delivered through air ducts to your living room or bedroom.




 

How heat pump works:

The video above demonstrates the the basic principal of heat pump operation, which is essentially a dual mode air conditioner.



Heat pump operates on principle when the gas is compressed, it releases heat, and when it is decompressed, it releases cold.