Solar power provides one of the most promising sources of renewable energy. For now, we continue to derive most of our energy from fossil fuels. Debates rage over how long oil reserves will last at the current rate of consumption throughout the world. Regardless of your personal opinion on the sustainability of relying on fossil fuels, you can’t ignore the ever increasing cost of oil and your home utility bills. A home solar power system can drastically reduce your monthly electricity bill.How Solar Panels WorkPhotovoltaic cells within solar panels use a semiconductor material (such as the silicon used in computer chips) to directly convert sunlight into energy. Sunlight striking the solar cells release electrons from atoms in the silicon. Electrical conductors are attached to the photovoltaic cells to capture the electrons in an electrical circuit.How Much Do Solar Power Systems Cost?Cost is the primary obstacle for most homeowners who want to install a solar system. Solar panels purchased at retail ($1,125 each) plus professional installation can cost over $27,000. Anyone considering solar should first work on reducing their overall energy consumption by making their home more energy efficient. An efficient home requires a smaller (and less expensive) solar panel system to meet its electricity needs. Use a home energy audit kit to locate the biggest energy wasters at your house.DIY Solar PowerYou can build your own solar electric system for a fraction of the retail cost. Instead of buying a manufactured retail solar panel, locate cheap solar parts and assemble them yourself. How-to guides are available that can teach you where to locate parts and provide plans and step-by-step instructions for making and installing a residential photovoltaic system.
Perhaps you are remodelling the kitchen and have a choice of gas or electric cooktop. Make sure you review all the options between the two. While some chefs simply prefer the instant heat of gas, others say the constant heat from electric is perfect for all cooking needs. Here are five points to help you consider which is the best for your home kitchen needs.Initial investmentWhile gas is much cheaper on a daily usage basis, the initial outlay is going to be higher than any comparable electric range. This may be a deciding factor from the beginning but if you prefer to cook with gas and can envisage the long term benefits and savings in terms of ongoing energy costs paying a little more to begin with could be worth it in the long term.Temperature controlGas versus electric for temperature control is a debate that will continue for as long as there are chefs and cooks in the kitchen. For anyone new to the art of cooking with gas, this can take a bit of getting used to. There can be a fine line between boiling and simmering if the controls aren’t handled carefully. Electric can be difficult to control once the hotplate has heated up and it might be that the pot needs to come away from the heat entirely to cool down to a simmering point.Heating timeElectric hotplates will take longer to get to the desired temperature but once there, the heat is maintained throughout the cooking process. Whereas gas is an instant heat that can be turned down or off by adjusting the knob there can be a continual need for checking the simmering or boiling point to stop overheating.Starting controlsLong gone are the days of the first gas cooktop that needed a match or an ignition lighter to get things fired up. The latest gas cookers have inbuilt electronic ignition switches making it as easy as any electric hotplate to start.Energy costsThe newer models of electric stove tops are far more energy conscious than the older versions but gas still seems to come out on top for ongoing energy costs. Carbon footprints seem to be similar if using gas or electric.Another consideration for gas cooking may be the availability of the gas line in your area. Bottled gas can be a bit of a nuisance if you’ve forgotten to order a new batch after your last one ran out but having to cylinders on hand can prevent this inconvenience. Electricity is available no matter where you live so this could be the easiest solution if the rest of the house is electric.Whether you decide on gas or electric, home appliances can easily be researched and sourced on line making the shopping experience simpler than ever.