Of course, you want to be kind to the environment. You probably recycle, properly dispose of waste, and keep your energy use down. You know that solar panels and passive energy design are energy efficient, but you may wonder if they are a practical choice for your modest budget. If you are looking for a good energy investment, harnessing the power of the sun is a good choice for you.
PV Solar Panels
If you've been waiting for the technology to advance so that you could reasonably install solar panels, you do not have to wait any longer. In fact, it's existed for some time now in several different forms. One practical choice for the average homeowner is PV cell panels, installed by companies like the one found at http://www.solarsource.net. This type of solar energy is what you frequently see on rooftops of apartment buildings and some private homes. You are able to use the energy they collect from sunlight to create electricity for your home. The St. Louis Housing Authority has used these on their apartment buildings and expects to reap a 15% overall savings on their investment.
Passive Solar Energy
If you are not interested in solar panels, you can harness the power of passive solar energy. If you are building a new home or undergoing a remodel, you can add design elements that allow you to use the sun without solar panels. New homes need a "southern exposure" that allows the sun to enter your home unimpeded. You should keep that area clear of trees and other sun-blockers. Your windows should be approximately 30 degrees due south. The more brick, tile, and other "thermal mass" materials you have in your home, the better. They collect the heat and help keep your home warm during the cold winters. They are also cool materials in the summertime, so they should help reduce your air conditioning bills as well. Your architect will probably have your roof "overhang" certain areas to help keep things cool during the smoldering days of July and August.
Harnessing solar energy to heat your home is not something you have to wait for, anymore. Although the initial investment in solar panels will take some years to recoup, you will eventually save money from their installation. Passive solar power simply means using smart design in your home to make use of natural sunlight. Your heating bills will be less when you employ these strategies, and you will also be helping the environment. Solar energy is definitely a practical choice for the average homeowner.