Passive Solar Energy: Free for Everyone

Free solar energy sounds a little far fetched, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, it’s real and you can easily take advantage of it and lower your electric bill.

Before there was electricity, people relied on the sun for many things. One of them was to dry laundry; another was to dehydrate food.

That was easy.

What about a solar water heater? You might not be up to using a solar shower year ’round, but you can heat water with the sun any time… well, any time the sun shines.

All you will need is a dark container and a place to put it. Granted, some containers work better than others, so take advantage of the best. A metal container, painted black or blackened by fire or use, that has a lid on it, is best. It works even better if you can put it behind glass, but it will heat water even on a cold winter day if it’s on the ground (not a stone) and if the sun is shining directly on it.

For an even simpler method, stretch out a garden hose in the sun that has water in it. You might not want to use this to make tea or coffee, but it’s perfectly safe to wash your hands or hair or the floor or whatever you need hot water for.

You can even heat your home with passive solar. There is a method that uses aluminum cans (as in soda cans) in a wooden frame. The cans are painted black and covered with glass, then set in a window where the sun shines. A hose from the frame to inside the house brings in the warm (or hot!) air and warms the air in your home.

If you don’t want to go to that trouble, simply be sure to open the window coverings whenever the sun is shining through them, and close the coverings when the sun is not shining on them. The sun radiates heat through window glass, but the loss of heat through the same can be pretty extreme.

To absorb and hold heat in a room, use dark coverings on the furniture and floor as much as you can. Even a dark throw covering a couch will help!

As to drying laundry with the sun, an old fashioned clothesline is an inexpensive investment, but if you don’t want to, or can’t use one, get a drying rack that you can set outside. Or just throw things over the fence or deck rail, or wherever you can find a place where they will be safe and get some sunshine.

Solar showers can be bought for not much, but after looking at one, you might want to make your own. You will need a private place, of course. A simple four walled structure is all it takes. The shower comes from above, so no roof needed, and the ground will absorb the water, so there’s no need for a floor unless your ground will become muddy.

Using the sun is something we can all do. We may not be able to take advantage of everything in our circumstances, but we can take advantage of the natural, free energy and warmth that is ours just by living on this earth.

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