Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lost That Lovin' Feeling

My home's roof is south facing and my front yard is free from trees. Perfect conditions for a solar system to heat my home and run my TV. The problem is that I don't have the $20,000+ needed to pay for the solar system hiding under the mattress.

So, I have been trying to integrate smaller solar, electric lights into my house.

First, it was a solar nightlight for Little Guy's room. I found it at LL Bean and it was affordable. Simply place the nightlight's suction cups on the window and voila you are done. Turn the light on at night and off during the day. Couldn't be easier.

Next, I bought a solar LED strand of lights for my little outside tree. I bought "clear" Christmas lights. They look blue. A super-tacky blue. I have read that LED lights can give off different tones of light. How was I to know? When shopping online you can't try the lights before buying.

On top of the strange color, the lights don't have an on/off switch. Just a sensor. So if the moon is out, a streetlight is on or the neighbor's front light is on they will not come on. I have to flip the solar panel each night to "trick" the lights into thinking it is dark. Then in the morning I have to remember to flip it back over to charge in the sun.

My latest solar purchase was a solar spotlight. I placed it in the yard and aimed it at the front door. It doesn't work. The company gave me a hard time when I called to tell them that it didn't work. They were very defensive. Had they heard more calls like mine? Eventually I sent it back. Now number two doesn't work. Even if it did work it doesn't have an on/off switch. Just a light sensor on top of the unit that cannot be flipped over to avoid other light. What a waste of money.

In my solar quest I have seen solar cell phone chargers, laptop chargers and iPod chargers for sale online. They are seriously expensive. For example the cell phone charger cost $99 before shipping. By the time I save $99 in energy costs I would probably need a new cell phone and the plugs probably won't fit by then. And then I wonder how well it will work.

Why is this technology so expensive while still being so flawed? Yes, there are government rebates on whole-house systems, but they barely take a chunk out of the cost.

What about small business who use a ton more energy than I do? A friend owns a chain fastish food restaurant. His electric bill runs around $9,000 a month. There are no solar rebates for him. Trust me, he has hired people to look. That fact absolutely blows my mind.

Please tell me that solar technology will be like DVD players. Every year they get better and the price goes down. I paid hundred of dollars for my first DVD player. After that one went to that special DVD place in the sky, I plunked down $40 for my most recent DVD player.


Erikka said...

this may be too personal to discuss, but if you and your husband make below a certain amount, you may qualify for state assistance in updating your house to be solar powered or more weather efficient. There are lots of different programs that most people don't know about because they usually make too much money to qualify. The amount probably varies, but maybe not, it is a government funded program.

Erikka said...

great pics add!