Many people think solar energy is a recent technology. However, people have been using solar solutions since ancient times. Hanging out clothing to dry or amplifying heat from the sun for a greenhouse are common ways solar energy has been used for centuries. Solar energy is abundant, and only a tiny percent of available energy from the sun is used. Today’s technology makes it possible and affordable for almost anyone to convert solar radiation into useable energy for a home. Some common home uses for solar energy include temperature regulation, heating water, lighting and basic electrical generation.
Passive solar energy is generally both easier and cheaper to achieve in homes and offices. Passive heating solutions involve installing large windows in appropriate areas to make use of the natural heat of the sun. Likewise, passive cooling involves building a home to take advantage of sun position and winds. Passive cooling and heating can exist in the same home, if it is properly designed.
Passive heating can also be used to heat water. Many people heat outdoor pools through a series of pipes. The pipes run water through metal coils that are exposed to the sun. The coils grow hot and transfer warmth to the water. An obvious passive use of the sun is lighting. Many people keep utility costs down by using electric lighting only at night, and commercial buildings throughout the world make use of skylights and large windows for natural light.
Unlike passive solar solutions, active solutions require the use of technology to convert solar radiation into electricity.
Solar Energy for the Home
The first thing many people think of when discussing solar energy are solar panels. Solar panels are created from substances that can convert radiation into electricity. This property is known as photovotaism. You can read more here http://www.eere.energy.gov/basics/renewable_energy/photovoltaics.html. The more panels available, the greater level of energy is generated.
When solar panels are installed on a home, they are wired into the electrical system. The home also remains on the electrical grid so there are never times when electricity is unavailable. Usually, panels are situated to face south in order to gather the most sun. Energy from the panels must be converted to be used in the home and some solar solutions allow homeowners to save power they do not immediately need.
Depending on the type of solar technology being used, homeowners can arrange for excess energy to back feed to the power company. The power company provides an offset on utility bills for the homeowner or even pays the homeowner money. Proper use of solar energy can save the homeowner a great deal of money as well as reduce the drain on non-renewable resources for the area.