Solar Energy Can Be Passive and Free!

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

Solar energy use can be FREE! Read about how passive solar energy can be used in almost any home for no additional money and without buying special equipment. 

Solar energy use doesn't have to cost anything. Read about how passive solar energy can be used in almost any home for no additional money! #TexasHomesteader

(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!)

Eco-Friendly Trend

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.

I was using my own reusable bags well before it was fashionable. It’s funny the strange looks I received from clerks when I asked them to place my purchases into my own canvas bag.

I used to joke with RancherMan that if I could get a nickel for every time the puzzled cashier exclaimed are you SURE?? that I could pay off all our bills!

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.

We incorporated many energy efficiency features as well as passive solar features into its construction. Our NE Texas home was built into a rectangle with the long sides facing north and south.

Deep porch overhangs were added to the north side to protect windows from that 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!

You don't need solar panels or expensive equipment to take advantage of Passive Solar energy for FREE! Come see my easy tips. #TexasHomesteader

Using Window Coverings To Save Money

We’ve already discussed how we use the sun to cook our bread here, and the use of inexpensive tube-style skylights to offer passive solar energy.

But  one of the easiest no-cost ways to use solar energy in your home is with the use of your window coverings.

In the warmer months you can close your drapes to cover those sunny windows and keep that heat from coming into your home.

But in the cooler months the opposite is  true. Open up those coverings on sunny windows and let the warming sun come through!

Solar energy use doesn't have to cost anything. Read about how passive solar energy can be used in almost any home for no additional money! #TexasHomesteader

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.

We have 2″ blinds as our main window coverings and heavy curtains/valances for the decorative covering and for cold-weather closing.

That way we can easily open and close the blinds to suit the conditions. Since we have an open floorplan actual electrical lights are not even needed until nightfall.

And remember, How You Position Those Blinds when you open them can have an impact too.

Use the blinds to direct solar energy and free heat into your home using passive solar energy. #TexasHomesteader

If you can see sunshine on the floor, heat is coming in. Good in the winter months, not so good in summer.

Using Mirrors To Reflect Natural Sunlight

And if you’re trying to get more free passive solar sunlight into your home, how about this?

RancherMan made me a large, rustic, Barn-Wood Mirror for me several years ago. I love it for so many reasons: The fact that he made it for me, that it’s using repurposed materials such as the large mirror from Goodwill.

Plus the fact that it features reclaimed wood from our 1880’s Barn as well as 1880’s Elwood barbed wire embellishments.

But where to put 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?

Use mirror placement in your home for passive solar energy, directing light deeper into your home. #TexasHomesteader

So look around when hanging a mirror in your home. Is there a good place where it can take advantage of spreading that free sunlight in your home too?

That Sunshine-Fresh Aroma For Laundry

One of my favorite ways to use passive solar energy is with my solar clothes dryer.  😉 

We own a nice gas-powered dryer but I use it only in emergencies such as when one of the grandbabies has dirtied up her clothes and they need to be washed and dried before she heads home again.

My laundry methods are simple. I love to use my own Homemade Laundry Detergent, then hang our clean clothes outside to dry.

The delightful aroma that is imparted into the fabric cannot be duplicated for any price by any of the laundry-aisle moguls. But Mother Nature provides it for FREE!

Oddly enough this has turned into 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.

Passive solar energy can be used to dry clean laundry outside. #TexasHomesteader

I somehow feel a closeness with my grandmother as I complete this chore, remembering as a child how I would stand next to her and hand her the clothes to go on the line.

Sweet memories…

Fixing Crystallized Honey

What about using passive solar energy for Fixing Crystallized Honey? Don’t throw away that precious honey just because it’s gotten thick & crystallized.

Set that jar of crystallized honey where the sun can heat it up and melt it back into that smooth honey sweetness you love. For free!

Use passive solar energy to melt crystals from honey. #TexasHomesteader

Cooking Outside

And how about using the sun for other things such as brewing Sun Tea? I’m always using the sun to brew our tea, whether winter or summer. But especially during those hot & humid Texas summer months.

And why not? The sun brews me a delicious refreshing drink for free while keeping that heat & humidity outside where it belongs.

I use passive solar energy to brew my tea outside. #TexasHomesteader

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. I use it for baking bread, cooking food, and even Melting Down Beeswax.

You can check out all of my Solar-Cooking posts for ideas.

A solar oven can use passive solar energy to cook your food outside. #TexasHomesteader

Solar Lights Can Be Beautiful

If you want to dive even deeper into solar energy there are many other ways to use the sun for heating water, generating electricity, or recharging portable electronics. 

The web is full of ideas and the technology is getting less expensive all the time.

I even 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.

The sun charges the batteries for this solar light feature for FREE. #TexasHomesteader

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.

Watch For Opportunities To Use Solar Power

So keep your eyes open for opportunities to use 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:

Looking For More Solar-Cooking Recipes?

You can see our other SOLAR oven articles here

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16 thoughts on “Solar Energy Can Be Passive and Free!

  1. angi

    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.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      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~

  2. Jenny

    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!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      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~

  3. Heidi Tijssen

    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!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      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~

  4. Dada Drew

    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.

  5. Barb @ A Life in Balance

    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!

  6. TheFrugal Exerciser

    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.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      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 —> ) 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~

  7. Molly

    Oh my I LOVE the bed frame, that is truly stunning


    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      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~

  8. Kristi

    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.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      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~

  9. Joan @ The Chicken Mama

    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 🙁

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      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~


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