Lets contemplate the benefits to be of green home energy including passive solar energy and the micro-generation of renewable energy for homes amongst others.
Every 15 minutes the sun produces enough power to supply our current energy needs for an entire year. Because of its distance from the equator, the United Kingdom only receives 60% of the solar energy received at the equator. This energy equates to between 900 to 1200 kWh per square meter per year.. This energy is equivalent to the energy production of 1000 power stations.
The energy coming from the sun fluxes and wanes depending on the solar activity. The less sun spot activity on our sun the less energy emitted.
Interestingly enough the number of sunspot-free days suggest that solar activity is heading towards its lowest level in about 100 years’. The low level of sun spot activity may suggests that the Sun may be moving into a hibernation-like state, with the obvious question of whether this will have any major consequences for us on Earth.
We have no way of knowing what the climate in any region of earth will be in the future therefore, instead of putting all our eggs in one basket, we SHOULD be putting our money into possible adaptation for both global warning and global cooling. And I know which I would prefer.
Anyway I digress…
To really understand and exploit the benefits of green solar energy, one needs to understand how solar energy is harnessed.
Green solar energy can be divided into two types i.e. thermal (heat) and light.
Thermal energy is considered passive solar energy. The use of passive solar energy in housing involves the placement of the building for optimum benefit, the building design and position of suitable building components to make full use of sunlight for day-lighting, passive heating, and/or passive cooling. Apart from saving energy, the primary benefit of a passive solar home is the improved comfort of its occupants.
Thermal energy is harnessed through the design and materials used to construct a building.
The building gathers energy from the sun the old fashioned way; by allowing it to stream in through the windows…
A passive solar home or building can get a full quarter of its heat from the sun alone through the integration of the appropriate ratio of windows to a south facing wall (if you live northern hemisphere)whilst using heat retaining materials, for example brick and stone, and a little intelligent design. That same thermal energy can also be used to heat water for solar hot water systems.
In a passive solar house window placement and sizes are crucial as they can affect the heat gain or loss during various months of the year.
When designing and planning a passive solar home the ultimate goal is to have a home that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Passive solar home energy systems can easily be integrated with active solar systems.
A passive solar system functions best in an energy efficient home with a well designed mechanical system.
It is rather unfortunate that the principle of passive thermal energy are hardly ever used in the mass production of housing.
In a energy efficient home a passive solar system should never be considered as a stand alone system to saving energy.
To reduce the need to use lights within the home during the day tubular skylights along with sky tubes and solar tunnels can be used.
The suns rays can be captured by the photovoltaic cells of solar panels to create electricity.
For the majority of home owners the reason to use renewable home energy is to reduce their utility bills. Constructing a green solar energy system can come with a large initial investment, however they generally pay for themselves within a few years by providing either supplemental electricity or all of the electricity to your home or business.
Building your own solar panels, participating in government refunds and net metering, in which you sell unused electricity back to the power company, can reduce the cost of implementing a green solar energy system.
In addition, green solar energy systems require little to no maintenance after installation, as most have no moving parts.
You don’t have to construct the whole solar energy system in one go, you can easily construct solar panels in modular sections and incorporate them into your home energy system whenever you complete a new panel.
At the beginning of every new year, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, which inevitably are forgotten by the end of January. This year, forget making a New Year’s resolution. Instead make a home energy efficiency resolution.
Need some ideas on resolutions to make your home more energy efficient? To get you started, I consulted with our experts in the Building Technologies Office — who work on developing innovative, cost-effective solutions to saving energy — to create a list of the top ways to save energy and money at home. They came up with eight strategies all homeowners should adopt to lower their energy bills no matter the time of the year or their price range. Some tips are free or low cost and can be used daily to increase your energy savings, while others require a larger investment for long-term savings. This year, resolve to try one or more of these tips for improving your home’s energy efficiency, and start seeing savings on your next energy bill.
1. Install and set a programmable thermostat. You could save an estimated 10 percent per year on heating and cooling costs by using a programmable thermostat, and by resetting it when you are asleep or away from home, you won’t have to sacrifice comfort.
2. Use sunlight to your advantage. The sun’s rays can contribute heat in the winter but force air conditioners and fans to work harder — and use more energy — in the summer. During winter months, you can take advantage of sunlight by opening your curtains during the day to allow the sun to naturally heat your home. During warmer months, use light-colored window shades or blinds to reflect heat back outside, keeping your home cooler and more efficient. Using natural lighting effectively will also reduce the need to use artificial light.
3. When replacing appliances or purchasing electronics, look for ENERGY STAR appliances, fans and electronics. Your home’s appliances and electronics account for close to 20 percent of your energy bills. Using ENERGY STAR® certified products — which incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-15 percent less energy and water than standard models — throughout your home could save nearly $750 over the lifetime of the products. For example, ENERGY STAR clothes washers use about 40 percent less energy than conventional clothes washers while reducing water bills. ENERGY STAR washers also require less detergent and are gentler on clothes, saving you money on clothing expenses.
4. Choose energy-saving lighting. About 10 percent of the energy your home uses goes to lighting costs. By just replacing five of your home’s most frequently used lights with energy-efficient ENERGY STAR bulbs, you could save $75 a year in energy costs. Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs can yield as much as 75 percent energy savings and last six-times longer. You can get even more energy savings, longer life span and less wasted heat by switching to ENERGY STAR LEDs.
5. Use an electronic power strip for your electronic equipment. Many electronic devices and equipment continue to consume unnecessary energy even when not in use. Often called energy vampires, these devices cost families about $100 a year. Use a power strip for electronic devices and turn it off when not in use to eliminate energy vampires. And be sure to unplug your chargers — they draw energy even when they aren’t connected to a device.
6. Reduce energy for water heating. Water heating is a large energy expense in your home, accounting for about 14-18 percent of your utility bills. By taking low-cost steps, you can reduce your water heating bills. Make sure your water heater is set to no higher than 120 degrees. Install low-flow showerheads or temperature-sensitive shower valves. Newer water heaters have more insulation than older ones. If your water heater is more than five years old, you should wrap a water heater jacket around it to stop heat loss from the tank.
7. Hire a professional to maintain your heating and cooling system. Arrange for annual maintenance with a qualified technician. This includes checking the airflow over the coil, testing for the correct fluid (refrigerant) level, checking the combustion process and heat exchanger are operating safely, and ensuring proper air-flow to each room. In addition, you should clean the air filters in your heating and cooling system once a month, and replace them regularly.
8. Consult a home performance contractor to achieve large savings. There is a growing industry of professionals who are qualified to make recommendations to homeowners on how to improve the overall energy efficiency of their homes. These professional energy assessors will do a comprehensive energy audit of your whole house using special tools — such as a blower door test and an infrared camera to locate air leaks — to measure home energy efficiency.