The sun is the ultimate source of energy for us! Not only do we rely on it for lighting and heating our homes, but its radiation is also extremely beneficial for the planet. The ability to harness the sun’s energy is what led to the development of solar power. But what exactly does solar power use for heating and cooling our homes?
The Sun Is Cold
If you’ve ever visited a country where the summers are really hot and the winters are really cold, you’ll know exactly what I mean. The north and the north-eastern parts of the United States are great examples of this phenomenon. But even in these parts of the country, the temperature can vary quite a bit from day to night. This is why you always need to check the weather before you plan a vacation or a staycation – especially if you’re going into the the winter!
As fantastic as the sun is, it is not always possible or desirable to rely on it directly for our energy needs. The main reason behind this is that we are subject to both cold and hot temperatures regardless of the time of day or night. So even when the sun is shining brightly, your home may still be cold and dark – especially if you live in a region with very cold winters. This is where heat pump technology comes in. A heat pump is a type of heat engine that uses heat energy to remove or add heat to a fluid (usually a refrigerant, typically ammonia or ethanol). As the fluid changes temperature, so does the space around it! This is what enables a heat pump to extract or add heat to our home. To put it simply, a heat pump is a device that converts heat into usable energy! So if you live in a cold climate and need a source of heat that is both efficient and environmentally-sound, a heat pump is the answer. They also happen to be virtually indestructible, so you’ll definitely want to have one in your home for the long term!
The Sun Can Be Dimmed
While the sun provides us with a never-ending supply of heat and light, we can also use this energy to our advantage when its brightness becomes a problem. We can use solar screens and shades to protect our homes and businesses from direct exposure to the sun’s harsh rays, especially in the summer!
There are several different types of solar screens, each with a different purpose. For example, you could use a solar shading screen to protect your home from overheating. These types of screens come in a transparent or opaque variety, so you can select which one you want based on how much sunlight you want to protect your home from. You could use an electric fan to cool off your home on really hot days, and a few strategically placed windows can also work to keep your home cool during the day. A poorly-designed or improperly-placed window can actually do the complete opposite; let in all the hot air during the day, resulting in your home overheating – especially in the summer!
Can Thermal Energy Be Converted Into Electrical Energy?
If you’re still wondering whether or not solar power is a viable source of energy for your home, it’s time for a reality check. Even though we can get all of the energy we need directly from the sun, we need to remember that this energy comes in the form of heat and light, which can currently only be used directly as heat or light. So while there are no electricity generating stations or clouds in the sky, you have to realize that the sun doesn’t provide us with unlimited energy. In most places, it’s not even close. There are a few instances where this can be used, but on a large scale, the majority of the time, the sun’s energy is wasted.
To put this in perspective, let’s assume that you live in a region where the winters are harsh and temperatures can drop well below freezing. To keep your home warm, you rely on a wood stove for your primary source of heat. But because it is very expensive to heat your home with just one source of heat, you decide to purchase an additional one (an oil furnace). Since oil furnaces also produce heat as a byproduct of their operation, you’re able to use this additional source of heat to your advantage in the winter. This is when thermal energy can truly be harnessed and used to our benefit!
Are Renewables As Sustainable As We Think?
Sustainability is a major point of concern when it comes to modern living, and it’s something we need to consider when thinking about energy sources. As we’ve seen with fossil fuel production and climate change, relying on non-renewable sources of energy for the long term is not a good idea. While some people prefer to think of renewables as a new “gold rush” and feel that we can continue to depend on fossil fuels in the 21st century, we now know this is not the case. With all of the climate change and air pollution that comes along with fossil fuel production and use, we need to find alternative and sustainable sources of energy. The good news is that renewable energy sources are available and they’re growing in popularity every day. Whether it’s solar power or hydroelectricity, there are always options available to those who want to try something new. The key to finding sustainable options is by asking the right questions; only then will you be able to find an energy source that is good for you, your home, and the environment!