Energy. This is what drives us. This is what makes life in the modern world possible.

Our increased ability to harness and use energy has opened up a lifestyle that only the wealthiest could afford just over a hundred years ago. Enjoy a cappuccino from a DRM-protected Keurig ? In the 1800s, you would need someone to get water from a well, someone else to cut and split wood, a cook to light a fire, boil water, grind beans by hand… You get the idea.

Grinding coffee by hand

In this light, energy is very cheap today. But we can do simple things to save money on electricity. cut costs on cut costs on

Ironically, doing something for yourself again is the best way. Just ask the Amish about living off the grid. Or start using smart home devices to save money and energy Let’s see how we can implement some simple alternative energy projects. and save a lot of money.

Before we start, I am not an engineer. The values ​​are calculated as best as possible by this layman and the data comes from external sources.

Solar Air Heating — Save $20,440

A solar air heating collector is just as quick and easy a way to start using alternative energy as it is now. It’s nowhere near as complicated as a full solar electric array.

solar air collector

Two principles at work: dark surfaces absorb light and the main thermosyphon. Dark things look dark because they don’t reflect as much light. As you know, light is energy, but when it is absorbed by something, that light energy is converted into heat energy.

The main body of the box will have a black material to trap the heat from the sun. This heat is transferred to the air in the box.

Thermosyphon Diagram

As the air warms up, it wants to rise out of the box. As warm air rises, it pulls colder air into the box. This is a thermosyphon that works with the help of convection. Now our solar air heater is working. It happens without moving parts!

You can build one! If you can build a box, you can do it. If you’ve never worked with tools, don’t worry. You can quickly learn basic job skills

The most efficient and effective design uses a black metal window screen as a heat collector. This works great because it has a large surface area and is already rated for maximum airflow. If you can get a black metal screen, this is the best. If you can’t, it’s easy to spray paint on a black screen. Just use a heat resistant paint such as barbecue or wood stove paint.

How much will a solar air heater save? Gary Reis posted his results on He did his test a day, which averaged 60 degrees. F or 15 deg. C. Cool day by most people’s standards. The heater he used was 32 square feet. Sounds pretty loud, but it’s just a box 8 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 6 inches deep. You can of course make them smaller.

The test took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — the peak sunny hours of the day in winter. The heater sucked in air, which averaged 60 degrees. F and pumped it out at an average of 109 degrees F. Wow.

Test Graph

He did this at a rate of 87 cubic feet of air per minute (cu ft). The average living room is about 2560 cubic feet. This window-mounted solar air heater will circulate all the air in that room for 30 minutes. This means that if your room is at 60 degrees Fahrenheit at 10 a.m., it can be warmed up to a comfortable level in half an hour. Electricity is not required. This is the ideal application of alternative energy.

Saving Solar Air Heater

How much money will it save you? If one heater can keep the living room warm during all daylight hours, then from 6 to 10 hours without a heater. Our average living room usually needs a 3200W electric heater. If it runs for 10 hours, that’s 32 kilowatt hours (kWh). Let’s say electricity costs you 19 cents/kWh. That’s over $6 a day or $42 a week. From October to March it is about $1022. The 20-year savings is $20,400 assuming the electricity price stays the same for another 20 years. Yes, right.

Solar Water Heater — Save $33,600

If you can build a solar air heater, you can certainly build a solar water heater. They work on the same alternative energy principles as the solar air heater above, only the liquid you pump through them is water.

Hot water thermosyphon

If working with plumbing intimidates you, try doing it with a greenhouse or shed first. Thus, if there are leaks, the damage will be less significant. This may not save you much money, but imagine if you could keep the water in the greenhouse for a few more months.

The easiest solar water heater to build is a black hose reel. You may even have seen one of them around the pools. The black hose captures the sun’s heat and transfers it to the water. When the water in the hose is heated, the thermosyphon effect is activated.

You can create more complex systems using the boxed approach, like the air heater above. But instead of a window screen, you would use black PVC pipes or black painted copper pipes. Metal transfers heat to water much better than plastic.

Using it to preheat water before it reaches a regular water heater is the most common. This can save you some serious money. Energy Star says solar-powered preheating your water can cut your heating costs in half. They estimate that this will save you between $140 and $280 per year. Over 20 years, that’s $5,200.

Saving water for heating

Preheating water isn’t the only way this can help you. With simple modifications, you can use this system for floor radiant heating. Upgrading your home with this would be quite a challenge. This would be better for new builds or as an addition to an existing floor heating system.

Evaporative Air Cooler — Save $2400

Have you ever noticed how often it’s cooler near a lake on a hot summer day? Especially if there is a light breeze? It’s not just the wind that matters a lot. This evaporating water cools the breeze. You can use this to work from home and save big money on air conditioning.

DIY beginners can create simpler evaporative air coolers in less than an hour. You can do this with a bucket, some water and a cheap fan. Once you get the hang of the concept and some plumbing skills, you can expand it into something that could completely replace your air conditioner. Let’s look at the bucket cooler.

Turning water buckets on and off can be tiring. If you’re adventurous, you can start adding moisture, water pumps, and float shutoff valves to make an even more efficient, more automated evaporative air cooler.

How much will your main swamp cool you down? This can vary widely depending on conditions. Look at the table below. It can be as low as 2 degrees to 30 degrees. The temperature of the air entering the cooler and the humidity of the air affect this.

Evaporative Cooler Performance Index

Now you know the swamp works, but how much money can it save?

Saving on air conditioning

A 6,000 BTU air conditioner running 10 hours a day costs about $1.06 per day at 19 cents/kWh. If your summer is about 4 months long, that’s about $120. Over 20 years, that’s $2,400. If you live somewhere in southern California, you can easily double that.

Total Savings — $56,584

Saving $56,000 over 20 years is a good reason to pursue these three alternative energy projects. If that’s not enough motivation, consider what you can do with that $56,000. What if you invested your annual savings of around $2,800? ? At a compound interest rate of 3% per year, you can have over $75,000 in the bank.

Okay, that doesn’t exactly save you a whopping $56,584. Fair. It costs a little to do these things. It costs a little to maintain these things. And the actual savings you get depends on too many variables to give an exact number.

But even if you only save half that, isn’t it worth a try? Never mind the good things you’ll do by keeping the air from fossil-fueled electric generators from getting polluted. Plus, it’s just fun.

Thinking about doing any of these projects yourself? Have you already tried any of them? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!

Image Credits: Old-fashioned Coffee Grinding Wesley’s Deep Fryer, 15 kW Solar Panel, Air and Air Solar Collector, Water Thermosyphon Diagram, via Wikimedia, Screen Collector Test Chart, via

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