by Texas Homesteader ~
Solar energy use can be FREE! I’m sharing ways that passive solar energy can be used in almost any home for no additional money and without buying special equipment. REALLY!
(Note: Some links in this post are for further information from earlier posts I’ve written. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click them and buy something (almost anything, not just the item noted) I could receive a tiny commission. But the price you pay will NOT change. It’s an easy way to support this blog without anything coming out of your pocket. So click often! Thank you!)
It seems being environmentally friendly is all the rage now. But for some reason I was bitten by the environmental bug years before it became the thing to do, whether I was:
Shopping With Reusable Shopping Bags
Composting Kitchen & Garden Waste
I was always on the lookout for ways to tread more lightly on our earth. And ya know what? It almost always saved me money!
Passive Solar Home Building
Because I naturally have such a “tread softly on the earth” mindset it was primary in my mind when we built our home in NE Texas too.
We incorporated many energy efficiency as well as passive solar features into its construction:
Our home was built into a rectangle with the short sides facing east & west for maximum sun protection.
Deep porch overhangs were added to the north side to shade windows from our hot summer sun.
An open floorplan and a huge skylight in my kitchen assures free natural light bathes our home daily.
But not everyone is in the building phase of their home so I thought I’d pass on some good news. You can use simple passive solar principles and get solar energy for FREE!
Passive Solar: Use Window Coverings To Save Money
One of the easiest no-cost ways to use solar energy in your home is with the use of your window coverings.
In warmer months close drapes to cover sunny windows and keep heat from coming into your home.
In cooler months the opposite is true. Open up window coverings on sunny windows and let the warming sun come through!
You can also use your windows to allow natural light into a room. If you have an open floorplan even better because light spills into larger areas of your home.
Since we have an open floorplan actual electrical lights are not even needed each day until nightfall.
We have 2″ blinds as our main window coverings and heavy curtains/valances for decorative covering and cold-weather closing.
That way we can easily open and close the blinds & curtains to suit the weather conditions.
And remember, How You Position Those Blinds when you open them can have an impact too.
If you can see sunshine on the floor, heat is coming in. Good in the winter months, not so good in the heat of summer.
Using Mirrors To Reflect Natural Sunlight
If you’re trying to get more free passive solar natural sunlight into your home, how about this?
RancherMan built a large, rustic, Barn-Wood Mirror for me several years ago. But where to hang it?
I purposely hung it on a wall adjoining a large window. Light from the window hits this mirror & is reflected even further into our home.
Pretty AND functional. What’s not to love?
So look around when hanging a mirror in your home. Is there a spot where it can take advantage of spreading that free sunlight deeper into your home?
Solar-Powered Clothes Drying Plus Sunshine-Fresh Aroma For Laundry
My laundry methods are simple. I use my Homemade Laundry Detergent to clean our clothes, then hang our clean laundry outside to dry.
(We own a nice gas-powered dryer but I haven’t turned it on in years!)
The delightful fresh aroma that is imparted into the fabric when line-drying laundry cannot be duplicated for any price by any of the laundry-aisle moguls. But Mother Nature provides it for FREE!
This is one of my more pleasant chores, standing under that beautiful blue Texas sky listening to the chatter of the birds around me as I hang our clothes out to dry.
I’m transported back to my childhood and my sweet grandmother as I complete this chore, remembering how as a child how I would stand next to her and hand her the clothes to go on the line.
Fixing Crystallized Honey
Don’t throw away that precious honey just because it’s gotten thick & crystallized.
If the honey is in a glass jar the sun can gently heat it up and melt it back into that smooth honey sweetness you love. For free!
Use passive solar energy to Melt Crystallized Honey!
Cooking Outside Using The Sun
Especially during those hot & humid Texas summer months, I use the sun for preparing our drinks such as:
Making A Sugar-Free Minty Beverage
But if you want to go a step further you can even use the sun to cook your food!
I have a *Solar Oven and I use it constantly, especially in the hot/humid summer months.
The solar oven is used for baking bread, cooking food, and even Melting Beeswax.
You can check out all of my solar cooking posts for ideas:
Solar Lights Are Beautiful Outside
We made a super-cute Solar Light Feature from Bois d’Arc Tree logs and a couple of solar lights.
And we loved it so much we made another one Solar Light Using a Cedar Trunk and used a rope accent for that one.
I love it because it’s a natural accent piece to our garden and provides light to the sidewalk leading up to our home as well. All using the power of the sun.
Solar-Based Electrical Devices
If you want to dive even deeper into solar energy there are many devices you can buy that use the sun for generating electricity or *recharging portable electronics.
The web is full of ideas and the technology is getting less expensive all the time.
Watch For Opportunities To Use FREE Solar Power
So keep your eyes open for opportunities to harness the power of the sun using easy passive solar principles.
As I’ve shown in this post, you don’t necessarily need to retrofit your home with solar panels to take advantage of that free resource.
It’s easy to use the sun’s energy for FREE!
Links In This Post:
- Cities Banning Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags
- Baking Bread Outside In A Solar Oven
- Saving Electricity In Your Home
- How You Open Blinds Can Save You Money
- Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe
- Brewing Sun Tea Using The Power Of The Sun
- Don’t Throw Away That Crystallized Honey
- *Solar Oven
- Melting Down & Purifying Beeswax
- Reclaimed Barn-Wood Mirror
- Bois d’Arc Solar Light Feature
- Bois d’Arc Trees Are Both Beautiful & Functional
- Solar Light Feature Using a Cedar Trunk
Looking For Solar-Cooking Recipes?
- Emergency Preparedness On The Homestead
- Using FREE Solar Energy Instead Of Kitchen Appliances
- Meatloaf In A Solar Oven
- Cheesy Chile-Chicken Casserole
- Boneless Breaded Pork Chops
- SW Chicken w/Seasoned Brown Rice
- BBQ Pork Sandwiches
- Homemade Marinara Sauce
- Pumpkin Bread
- Chunky Apple Cinnamon Bread
- Baking Bread In A Solar Oven
- Cooking Hard-Boiled Eggs In A Solar Oven
- Baking Potatoes In A Solar Oven
- Brewing Tea With The Sun
You can see our other SOLAR oven articles here
C’mon by & sit a spell! Come hang out at our Facebook Page . It’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea. There are lots of good folks sharing! And you can also follow along on Pinterest,Twitter or Instagram
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I love having my curtians open to let the light in. We were just talking about hanging our laundry. We used to, but then we moved and even thought we have a clothes line I just couldn’t get it together. But I’m determined to hang our clothes this summer, for sure.
Hanging the laundry is one of my favorite chores, just for the childhood memories with my grandmother that it sparks. And that sunshine smell on the clothes? Wonderful! ~TxH~
I really appreciate what you said about the draperies! It is so true. In our first home I made a pair of pinch pleats that we frequently opened and closed to help control the temperature. We’re looking forward to using our clothesline as soon as we can get one made. Thanks again for linking up to the HomeAcre Hop. Great post!
It’s easy to help control the temps using your drapes. But I’ll admit, my “solar clothes dryer” is my absolute favorite way to use the sun’s energy. So relaxing for me. ~TxH~
I’v lined my curtains with a special light excluding lining. In winter it can also keep out damp draughts (which are many in our old, ramsackle house). That same dampness makes a dryer a need. I know, our grandmothers did without, but they were bent with reumatism and I don’t think that’s worth it. But when the sun is shining, nothing better than a clothes line. Even when it is freezing cold!
I happen to agree with you – nothing better than a clothes line when the sun in shining! Each family has their own needs and everything won’t work for every family, but it’s easy to incorporate at least some of the passive solar concept in almost every home – we all do what we can. Thanks for stopping by Heidi! ~TxH~
Yes, the environment friendly solar energy bug, I have that one too. I pay a fortune to the power company. I am always looking for ways to save. Your other post about saving electricity had some great ideas as well as this one.
I love hanging my clothes outside! My dh built a fabulous clothesline about 2 years ago. Since we only use room a/c in the bedrooms, I make sure to keep the curtains closed during the day to keep the heat out during the summer.
Thanks for linking up at Fabulously Frugal Thursday!
I open all of the shades to let the sun in on Friday. Our boiler went out Thursday night and it was cold in the house. Luckily, it was sunny in Chicago. I want to go off the grid and have solar energy for my home but it’s too expensive.
Going off grid can be expensive, but luckily there are things we can do that are no cost at all. Another tip I use is mirror placement. You can place a large mirror in a location that will receive the light from outside and reflect it back into the interior of the house. I did that with a large mirror we made out of barn wood (you can see the mirror here —> http://bit.ly/146JwtW ) Reducing your energy consumption has become very easy as well with the new energy efficient light bulbs and Energy Star appliances. There are always little things we can do! Thanks for your comment. ~TxH~
Oh my I LOVE the bed frame, that is truly stunning
Aw, thanks Molly! I love our bedroom furniture too, and I love, love, LOVE the quilt on our bed, handmade by my grandmother. Thanks for stopping by. ~TxH~
I grew up in a house where the main heat souce was passive solar, with a wood stove for back-up. (My parents have since switched the wood stove to a pellet stove.) The house is built into a hillside, leaving only the south side exposed.
Kristi – from what I’ve read, homes dug into a hillside with only the south side exposed like your parents had are the ULTIMATE in energy efficiency. How very cool that you grew up in that house! I’ll bet their energy bills were almost non existent, and how many folks wouldn’t love to be in THAT position… ~TxH~
I love hanging my clothes out on the line – one of the joys of summer around here! The first time I can hang them out after a long cold winter is cause for celebration. Since we’ve got snow in the forecast, I guess I won’t be celebrating on wash day this week 🙁
Joan – we’re pretty lucky to be in Texas, I’m able to hang clothes outside all year. It takes a little longer to dry in the cold weather but as long as the sun is out everything dries ok. On longer stretches of sunless or rainy days I use my fold-out racks inside. In the winter it has the added benefit of adding humidity to the dry winter air inside. My dryer hasn’t even been turned on in years. LOL ~TxH~