Harnass the Sun's Power Inexpensively With These Three DIY Projects

Home & Garden Articles

You're tired of high energy bills and eager to tap into the power of the sun, but unfortunately, all of the solar panels and solar water heaters you see are too costly. Luckily, there is a solution. There are many low-cost, or even free, ways that you can harness the sun's energy for your needs. Get ready to tap into your DIY skills and take a look at these three projects:

1. Passive Solar Windows

If you are building a home, its orientation can have a massive effect on how energy efficient it is. Ideally, houses should be oriented with as many windows as possible facing north, but even 20 to 30 degrees from true north can be advantageous. Single story houses should be at least 6 metres apart while two storey houses need spacing of at least 11 metres.

This position allows you to take heat from the sun during the winter, lowering your reliance on artificial heating, and if you're already building a house, it doesn't cost anything. If your home is already built, however, you can simply use what you have.

Keep your north facing windows uncovered during winter days, and install a horizontal sun shade outside over your windows. The shade blocks the summer's high rays but allows the winter's comparatively low rays into the house to heat it up. When you cover your windows at night or during the summer, use thick energy efficient window treatments to keep in the heat.

Make this project crafty by building your own window shades out of PVC pipe and canvas, and then, make your own window treatments out of heavy duty fabric.  

2. Mini Greenhouse

Instead of driving to the market and buying veggies that have been transported by a fuel using truck, you can grow your own veggies at home. In addition to having a kitchen garden in your yard, harness the power of the sun and extend your growing season with a mini greenhouse.

You don't need a lot of room or a lot of money. Find or buy some scrap wood, and build a simple rectangular frame. If you have space in your yard, set the frame on the ground, remove any weeds or grass and plant your seeds. If you have to use the frame on a patio or balcony, put a piece of plywood underneath it and fill it with potting soil before planting.

A old window attached to the frame with a set of hinges works beautifully as your mini greenhouse lid. The lid traps in the heat, extending your growing season well into the spring and fall months. If you don't have an old window, use sheets of polystyrene over your mini greenhouse frame.

3, DIY Passive Solar Water Heater

A passive solar water heater is fairly easy to make yourself and, using salvaged parts, you can build one without spending a lot of cash. Although there are dozens of design ideas you can consider for a solar hot water heater, they all essentially have the same format.

You need a tank to hold the water, an insulated box around the tank and a clear lid that works much like the lid in the above mini greenhouse to trap in the sun's heat.

For example, you could use an old electric water heater tank as your tank, a plywood box filled with spray foam insulation applied to its sides as your insulated box and a large piece of glass or plastic as the lid.

Orient your solar hot water heater on the north side of your home but before positioning it, make sure the area gets as much sun as possible. If it is blocked by trees or the neighbour's house, you may want to put your passive solar water heater on your roof – speak with a roofer to see if your roof can handle the weight.

Connect the tank so it receives cold water from the city's plumbing and have a second connection that goes into the house. The sun heats the water admirably all summer long, and in the winter, you can reroute your plumbing to use your regular water heater.



18 June 2015

Home Truths: Decorating Through The Years

I am the proud mother of nine grown up children! There wasn't much money around when they were little, so I was always sewing, knitting, growing vegetables and generally being self-sufficient. Now that they have their own households, you would think that I could rest a little, but I am busier than ever. I am blessed that my children and their partners are talented and have good jobs. However, they are very busy, so most of their home decorating is left up to me. From making curtains to painting bathrooms, I always have at least one project on the go. To tell the truth, I really enjoy it and it makes me feel that all my skills gained over the years are useful. I thought that people might like to read this blog which shares a lot of tips and ideas. I really hope you enjoy scanning through these pages.