Much of our country’s electric grid runs on coal. Even with carbon capture technology, coal is far from clean. As we burn through the world’s coal supply, coal companies resort to more drastic measures to extract it from the ground. A common industry practice, mountaintop removal mining, involves literally blasting the tops off of mountains, which demolishes mountaintops, destroys habitats, and pollutes surrounding waterways.
Even setting aside the environmental impact of coal, energy prices are on the rise. One way to reduce your impact and save some cash at the same time is to use home solar options, so that you’re not drawing as much power from the grid. Of course, not everyone is ready to make the leap and install a full-on solar array, but there are some smaller-scale ways that you can take advantage of solar power. Of course, the amount that you save is going to vary, depending on where you live and how much your energy company charges, but replacing even a small part of your energy consumption with renewable alternatives is going to save you some cash!
You can replace your gas or electric water heater with a solar water heater and use the power of the sun to save 50-80% on your water heating bills each month. Generally, your solar water heater will have a backup heating system, so if there isn’t enough sunlight, you’ll still have reliable hot water handy.
Solar water heaters can range from around $1000-$2000, but after rebates from the Federal government and your power company, they shake out to be much more affordable.
2. Solar Oven
About 4% of our home’s energy goes toward cooking, and switching to a solar oven can help you use less energy and save some money. Not only does a solar oven mean spending less on energy to cook food, in summer it also means your air conditioning won’t be competing with the oven to cool the house, so you’ll see even more savings on your energy bill. There are some companies that offer pre-built solar ovens in the $200-$300 range, but the do-it-yourselfers out there might want to try saving even more money by building your own solar oven instead like the one above.
3. Solar Gadget Chargers
The beauty of solar gadget chargers is that you don’t have to install a thing! Solar chargers like the ReVIVE solar charger have ports built in, so you can charge your cell phone, tablet, or other smaller gadgets right out of the box. Since about 7% of an average energy bill goes just toward powering our gadgets, that can add up to a big savings on your monthly power bill! Gadget chargers can vary in price quite a bit, but the ReVIVE costs around $28.
4. Solar Powered Outdoor Lights
Another way to go solar without any installation at all is with solar powered outdoor lights. Lighting accounts for about 11% of your energy bill, so anywhere that you can replace electric lights with solar ones will mean savings at the end of the month. These lights stake into the ground or mount onto the side of your house, and each one has a miniature solar panel to collect the sun’s energy during the day and power the lights when the sun sets. Fall and winter are the best times of year to buy solar lights, since many stores are liquidating their outdoor products. You can get a set of solar lights for as little as $10, if you’re a savvy bargain-hunter. The DIY-oriented, you can even make your own solar lights!