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Articles >> Eco-Living >> Home >> Going Solar

Going Solar


Although we all want to do the right thing for the planet, putting our ideals to practice can be overwhelming.You've adjusted to separating your papers from plastics and glass for recycling but the idea of converting an entire house to an alternative energy source can be absolutely daunting. Rest assured there are intermediary steps between the two extremes. Heating your home's water with passive solar power is a manageable and affordable first step.

Harvesting sunlight to heat your home's water can significantly reduce your reliance on nonrenewable energy sources and shrink your carbon footprint. Options range widely and include flat-plate collectors, integral collector-storage systems, evacuated-tube solar collectors, direct circulation systems, indirect circulation systems, integral collector-storage passive systems, and thermosyphon systems.

How much you save and how soon you recoup your initial investment depends on a wide variety of factors, such as the size and efficiency of your water heater, level of usage, and your geographical location. The initial investment for a small-to-medium range system with an 80-gallon storage tank, for instance, can be made for around $3,500, and you'll be making an immediate impact on both the environment and your power bill. Depending upon how much hot water you use, you can expect your system to have fully paid for itself within about four years. After that, you're heating water for free, with costs limited to standard maintenance on your system.

To learn more about the best solar water heating system for your home:
Home Power Inc, homepower.com;
Gaiam, www.gaiam.com;
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, nrel.gov learning;
U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, eere.energy.gov

by Debra Bokur

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