With media constantly reporting on environmental issues and referring to resources that are not renewable and won’t be around forever, such as coal and natural gas, people are starting to look to new energy sources.
The likes of wind turbine power, hydro power, bio-fuel and a vast range of other possible energy sources have been in development for quite some time, however are not in common use. Energy produced from the likes of the Snowy Hydro scheme, or the massive wind turbine farms in Goulburn or Blayney play a small part in energy generation. However, for the most part many of us still rely on coal produced electricity to turn on our lights, heat our homes or cook our food.
1. Small items and gadgets
Think about it. How many times have you picked up a dual powered calculator? Ironically used a solar powered torch? Taken a solar shower camping? Solar power is all around us, and has been used for decades to power some of the small gadgets we use every day. Items like calculators use dual energy — solar and battery — so you can conserve the energy in the small battery for when it’s really needed, and for the most part, use solar energy to operate the device.
Traditionally camping is an activity that is undertaken off the grid away from energy sources and from other people. For years avid campers have relied on solar power and heat from fire to power conveniences they would otherwise leave at home. Everything from radios to showers, generators and fridges can rely on solar energy to make your camping experience more enjoyable. Think about it — you’ve probably relied on solar energy much more than you realize.
2. The pool
The backyard pool, and even the local community pool have been long-time users of solar energy. Retaining some warmth in water temperature can mean the difference between a three month swimming season in some areas, and a six month one. Cheaper options for using the sun without any high-tech tools simply involve a blanket over the pool in the evenings to reduce heat loss through the night. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see solar panels near the pool that actively produce energy to actually warm the pool, as opposed to just retaining the sun’s natural heating of the water.
3. The car
It might be an odd thought, cars operating on the energy of the sun, but it has been a popular idea for years, and one that manufacturers are working on. While it is not common to see a solar car driving around, small solar functions are becoming more and more common, such as solar panels on the roof that are designed to produce energy that will cool down the car before you get in it. Imagine — using the sun to cool down your hot car!
Solar heated water is increasingly common, especially in rural areas and in the likes of Canada. This form of heating not only reduces energy bills, but provides a constant service that is environmentally friendly.
5. The home
A more common idea, is the use of solar panels for your home, in place of, or to compliment electricity. The Australian government saw the value in this alternative and encouraged it through subsidies in installation costs, and despite a change in policy, the use of solar power is becoming an increasingly attractive option for households struggling with growing energy bills.