Solar Energy

The sun emits protons to Earth that enables life. Through photosynthesis, plants turn the sun into fruits and vegetables for us to eat, or grass and weeds for animals to eat which in turn, we can also eat. We can use the sun to heat water for our kitchen, washing machine, showers and central heating systems. Another added option is to use PV panels that can create our electricity needs.

Solar Heating

There are various methods to heat water with the sun, from cheap and easy to more complete and efficient. Black pipes can be placed in a sunny and hot place that lead to the hot water tap. On a sunny day the water will get rather warm and then we have hot water, however that only gives you hot water during the sunny part of the day and limited only to the about of water in the blank pipe that is exposed to the sun  A more complete system would have the black pipes stored in a glass container so then the insulation would heat up the ambient temperature around the pipes like a greenhouse. After this you can make further improvements by pumping the hot water into an insulated tank and storing enough warm water for the evening. The best systems will warm water in the winter. However even if this doesn’t bring the water up to your desired temperature, further heating with gas, wood or electricity will require less energy than warming up freezing cold winter water. At Keela Yoga Farm we will shower with spring water and any further heating will be done with our wood fired boiler. How amazing is it to shower in fresh spring water instead of cleaned sewage water! Once you have a hot water tank full of hot water, this can be used as a hot feed into a washing machine, dishwasher, shower, underfloor heating, sinks or even for tea or coffee! Please join our mailing list to get updates on when I write about each system or open up courses on how to build them.

Photovoltaic Panels at Vale Da Sarvinda Portugal
Photovoltaic Panels at Vale Da Sarvinda Portugal. These capture the suns energy to pump up water from the local river into a huge lake for irrigation.

Solar electricity

PV (Photovoltaic) panels are the panels used to make electricity, solar panels are the panels used to heat water. PV panels are very cheap, but the extra parts you need like batteries to store the energy and inverters to covert into AC can be more expensive. However for less than 200 EUR you can have a small 12v system in your shed, caravan or other places that require light and plug sockets. For around 5000 EUR you can power your house electricity providing you don’t use electricity to heat the house or water. The electricity can be stored in batteries, or connected to the grid. When you connect to the grid you never have to worry about running out of electricity as you usually dont use the energy you create, you sell what you create to them and buy what you use from them. However the electricity company usually buys the electricity from you for half the price it sells it to you for. So you need to produce double the amount of electricity you use to have free electricity. The best way to avoid this is to be off grid and store your energy in batteries. Otherwise when on grid, rather than selling all the electricity you create to the energy company and then buying back what you use, install a system that allows you to use the electricity you make on the day and only sell what you don’t use to the conglomerate. This way you will really keep your bills down or even make a profit. Even if you don’t have PV panels, you can be more sustainable with your electricity. Buy applications that are lower voltage and keep things turned off. You can also try to use more electricity during the times of day when it is on low tariff, this is when the energy company is making excess energy that may get wasted, and use less during high tariff times when they are struggling to meet the demands. This will also save you money. At Keela Yoga Farm we will stay off grid and use a whole load of batteries to store our electricity and have a generator as a back up. Please join our mailing list to get updates on when I write about each system or open up courses on how to build them.

solar dehydrator terra alta portugal
Solar Dehydrators helps preserve food for the winter just using the sun. This one is from Terra Alta in Sintra Portugal

Solar Cooking Devices

Solar ovens and solar cookers are another way to use the sun’s energy. These are where you focus the sun’s energy into one place to create great heat. This is a free way to do your cooking and put a lot of natural energy into your food. As the heat cannot be controlled, it is best used when boiling liquids and making soups, stews etc.

Food and nutrition

Growing plants is another way we can harvest the suns energy. Without the sun we really couldn’t eat anything. All nutrients that we can eat are cleverly turned into edible fruits or vegetables that are edible by humans or animals. They extract the nutrients from the ground with the help of the microbiology in the food soil web. These plants can either be eaten directly by us, or where we cant eat plants like grass, animals can eat them and process the grass into meat that we can eat so we can get the nutrients from the grass. We also can turn plants and the manure from animals and humans into compost to feed back to the food soil web for plants to again turn sunshine into food for us all. Fom studying nutrition and understanding more about wild greens and what nutrients are available in the different plants, you can get all the nutrients you need without eating meat. However if you eat a normal city diet without the meat, you for sure will be malnourished. We at Keela Yoga Farm will be mostly vegetarian.

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Know of other ways to utilize the sun’s energy? Please share by commenting below.