change your habits to save on utilities

Think Your Home Is The Only Place You Can Rig For Solar Energy?

by Kelly Roberts

Using solar energy is one of the best ways to reduce your electric bills while still having adequate energy to power your home. You can go for professional installation or buy solar energy starter kits that you put together yourself. But your home as a whole isn't the only thing you can hook up to a solar kit. There are several smaller solar projects that you can set up yourself with the help of starter kits.

Solar Window Heaters

Home heaters and water heaters hooked up to a solar panel aren't the only appliances you can have that are solar-powered. You can also create your own solar heater using a wooden box, a glass panel, soda cans painted black, and wiring to connect the heater to your home. There are also portable window versions that you can make that are wireless. These solar heaters can get quite hot and require a spot where there's some clearance between the heater and everything else. They're very good for when you have someone in the house who wants the temperature to be a lot warmer than what everyone else wants.

Solar Cookers

These are metal-and-foil cookers that concentrate sunlight onto a closed pan, cooking a stew or soup inside. They work well in sunny areas, obviously, and they're a good way to cook food without turning the stove or oven on for a couple of hours. There are DIY kits for creating a foil-lined solar cooker, or you can get a parabolic cooker -- the metal reflectors are curved so that the sunlight concentration is very high -- that requires little setup.

Solar Electric Bikes

Plugging an electric bike into a solar-powered charger is nothing new. But now you can get conversion kits that allow your electric bike to run and be solar-powered at the same time. Some of the older kits required comically large solar panels to be placed on the bike's back rack, but newer kits have a smaller pack that makes it easier to ride the bike without people realizing that the battery is being charged as you ride.

You may want to sit down with a solar kit company representative to see how many kits you can find that might work in your home. These smaller kits are especially good if you're a renter and can't make major modifications like installing a full array of solar panels on a roof.