It’s free, it’s easily accessible, and its production is clean… it’s surprising that solar power is not more widely used. Advances in technology mean that it’s easier to manufacture solar panels, which makes them more affordable to consumers, and today’s solar panels can harness more energy with a smaller surface space. There is even technology available to make clear solar panels, which could potentially be used on office buildings to generate power.
You can take advantage of this cool technology in a variety of ways, whether you have a little to spend, or a lot. Here are a few ideas.
- Outdoor lighting: Leaving electric path lights on all night to light up your walkways can burn through electricity, but if they’re solar-powered, you won’t have to worry about making sure they’re turned off before you hit the hay. And because there are no wires, solar-powered path and accent lights are easier to install. Some companies also have strands of solar-powered string lights to decorate your yard or porch, so you can enjoy the twinkling lights, guilt-free.
- Chargers: Plugged-in chargers for phones and other devices are a leading source of vampire energy. Set your charging station by a sunny window and switch to solar chargers instead. And keep an eye out for some cool inventions seen in other countries, such as solar sockets that stick onto a window or a magazine ad that doubles as a charger. Hopefully they’ll soon come stateside!
- Solar toys: Do you believe children are our future? Get them interested in solar power at an early age with the wide range of solar powered toys and kits available. They’re as simple as solar beads that change color when exposed to sunlight or as elaborate as solar-powered robot kits. It’s a great way to educate kids about the power of sunlight. As adults they’ll understand the importance of this source of energy and hopefully their generation will find more and better ways to harness it.
- Solar oven: The old idiom about it being hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk isn’t so far-fetched. You can buy solar ovens or even find ways to make your own DIY solar oven. They’re good for camping, but also would be a great way to cook a meal in the dead of summer when turning on the oven is likely to heat up the whole house.
- Water heaters: Imagine being able to slash your energy usage by heating the water in your home via solar energy! There are several types of solar water heaters designed for different climates.
- Cars with solar features: You won’t mind parking in the hot sun if your car has a solar roof, like some Prius models. The solar roof panels on this car power a fan that keeps the air circulating, reducing the interior temperature of the car while it’s parked. And a new experimental car design by Ford has solar panels in the roof that help recharge the battery.