(855) 321-7473

M-F 9am-4pm Eastern

Beyond Solar Panels

5 Solar-Powered Products to Cut Your Home Energy Use

By Tobias RobertsRise Writer
Jun 19, 2018

When you think about “going solar,” you think about putting solar panels on your roof. Whether the reason is to become energy-independent, lower your monthly electric bill, reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, and approach carbon zero, investing in solar for your home is a reflection of those values.

If you have been thinking about making the switch to solar panels, now might be the time, as the 30% Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit (for US residents) is set to expire on December 31st, 2019. This government incentive has helped homeowners save up to $10,000 on the purchase and installation of solar panels and will most likely be completely phased out by 2022 unless new policies and legislation are passed. With these incentives in place, the average payback time for a home solar electric photovoltaic (PV) system is estimated at 7.5 years. This helpful online calculator allows homeowners who still want to take advantage of the solar tax credit to calculate their particular payback period.

If you don´t have the financial means to come up with the $25,000 to $35,000 needed for most four to five-kilowatt home PV systems, several other solar-powered products are much more affordable while still offering the same benefits.

Solar Water Heater

Hot water is a staple in almost every American home, using about 17% of a home’s energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The process of heating water for showers, laundry, and dishes, consumes energy and costs the average homeowner about $800 per depending (this amount varies widely, depending on the type of heating equipment and hot water usage. While tankless and on-demand water heaters can cut back on the energy expenditure of heating water for your home, solar water heaters are another option worth exploring. Using the sun’s warmth to heat hot water is one of the more efficient uses of solar energy.

Apricus Solar is one company that manufactures fully-functional solar water heaters for residential use. They offer two types of solar water heaters: Evacuated Tube Collectors and Flat Plate Solar Collectors. Their evacuated tube collectors have a high rapid heat transfer capacity and efficiently heat water in any climate. Their flat plate solar collectors have a lower product cost, though the installation cost does tend to be higher. Depending on where you plan to place the solar water heater, evacuated tube collectors are much lighter and thus better for mounting on lightweight structures. If you live in places with long, cold winters, the evacuated tube collectors will be better suited for heating water for your home.

Solar Pool Heater

While we´re on the subject of heating water, homeowners with pools most likely spend a good amount of money, whether gas or electric, on heating their pools during those early days of spring and late days of autumn. A 5,000-watt heat pump, for example, will use 5 kilowatts of electricity per hour. If you run your heat pump for an average of 5 hours per day, you´re looking at average energy use of 750 kWh per month, or almost $100 per month.  One of the more complex components of using solar energy is how to store that energy—and a swimming pool is a built-in storage tank for the sun’s heat.

Solar pool heaters can increase the temperature of the water in your pool without relying on fossil fuel energy. Enersol solar pool heaters can add up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit to your pool with free energy from the sun. They also work with existing pool pumps, thus reducing the need to purchase other equipment. The 18-year limited warranty also helps to guarantee that a one-time investment will extend your swimming season while also saving you money on utility bills over the long run.

Solar Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is not usually associated with solar energy, as the sun is a source of heat. However, solar air conditioners can harvest energy from the sun and turn that energy into free, cool air to lower your home's indoor temperature during the summer months. If you run your standard air conditioning unit for an average of six hours a day, you are most likely using around 900 kWh per month or close to $125 per month.

Solar air conditioners, such as those manufactured by Atlantis Solar, can save you hundreds of dollars each year. The solar air conditioners offered by Atlantis Solar also provide free, high-pressure hot water as a byproduct of the air conditioner operation. UV technology helps to kill harmful bacteria and viruses that could enter your home, and they also come with up to a 5-year warranty. They come in different sizes and BTU ratings, so you can decide if you want to cool your entire home or only specific areas where you spend more time during the warmer days.

Solar Outdoor Lights

Outdoor lighting can help to keep your home more secure while also allowing you to light outdoor patio areas for those evening barbecues. Unfortunately, the electrical wiring associated with outdoor lighting is often difficult and expensive. Since outdoor lights are most likely located in areas around your home where either direct or indirect sunlight will be shining throughout the day, solar outdoor lights are a practical and sensible solution to lighting the exterior areas around your home. Not only will solar outdoor lights save you money on your electricity bill, but they will also save you immediate money by not having to hire an electrician to install complicated wiring connections to set up outdoor electrical lights.

Lumens Lighting and Living carries more modern-looking solar pathway lighting. There are many options to choose from: motion-activated security lights, floodlights, pathway lights, or uniquely-designed solar lamps. You can find a complete rundown of outdoor solar lighting solutions here.

Solar Refrigerator and Freezer

Replacing your plug-in refrigerator with a solar refrigerator is another way you can cut back on your household´s energy consumption to the tune of 450-600 kWh per year. Sundanzer is one innovative company that has designed a wide range of refrigerators and freezers that work well with small solar panels because they can run on direct current (DC). (Solar panels produce direct current electricity; for most homes to use that power, they need a transformer to convert it to alternating current (AC), which increases the cost and complexity of the system). These 12/24V DC refrigerators and freezers use a DC compressor and have extra insulation; some units only use 5 watts of average power. The low energy consumption of their uniquely designed refrigerators and freezers means that even a small solar panel can directly and effectively power the most crucial element of any kitchen.

Bottom Line

If you want to go solar, these five solar-powered household products will cut back on your energy use at a fraction of the price of a more extensive roof-installed home PV system.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-11-23T17:31:33+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.