3 Ways to Save Big With Solar Energy

Solar energy is not just for electrical gurus or families able to make a large initial investment, it's for everyone. As the price of solar panels comes down and solar technology more efficient, solar energy is quickly becoming a way for the average family to save big on their monthly energy bills. Keep reading for 3 ways you can save a lot of money in your home with solar energy.

1. Go solar in the garden.

You pay nothing for electricity that comes from the sun, so why not use it in your home's sunniest spot – the garden? Several manufacturers offer solar-powered exterior lights that can illuminate porches, pathways, stairwells and gardens. Some are even bright enough to provide security lighting.

These extremely efficient solar lights use electricity generated by sunlight falling on photovoltaic (solar) cells, which is then stored in a rechargeable battery for use at night. Separate units that have a self-contained solar panel usually need to be placed in a sunny spot during the day, but lights with independent solar panels can go anywhere while you attach the panel to the roof or another sunny location.

2. Harness the sun to heat your water.

If you live in a sunny climate or can back up your solar system with a small, on-demand heater, this could be an ideal setup to save a lot of money. You'll save big on energy costs by installing a simple solar water heater to supplement your conventional water heater. Overall, a solar hot-water system is about 50-85 percent less expensive to operate than electric water heaters. The savings over gas heaters are less substantial, but there are still opportunities to reduce your energy consumption.

Before investing in any solar hot water system, have a heating consultant evaluate the potential savings and determine the system type and capacity best suited to your family's needs.

3. Harness solar power through your windows.

Opening your home up to light can dramatically reduce your heating and lighting costs. When renovating a home, always consult a lighting expert on the best window placement for the longest amount of daylight allowance.

If you're unable to invest in new windows, try simply opening the shades on a cold winter day or brightening a dark room with light paint and sheer curtains that allow the light to come in. For little to no expense, you can save a few dollars every month on your lighting bills.

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