Here Comes the Sun

Just as oil prices were skyrocketing this winter, University of Florida researchers announced they had used off-the-shelf supplies to build a house that runs entirely on solar power

06-01-2000 // NWF Staff

Just as oil prices were skyrocketing this winter, University of Florida researchers announced they had used off-the-shelf supplies to build a house that runs entirely on solar power. All the appliances in the house--including computers, lights and even the air conditioner--are powered by the sun´s heat, which is captured by 24 solar panels. The experimental house does not feature a kitchen, but the scientists say the system could power a refrigerator too. The stove, however, would have to run off natural gas. So would a clothes dryer.

Solar power was once considered too expensive for the average homeowner, but prices have dropped to the point that it is almost a break-even proposition compared to paying for the alternatives, says energy extension specialist Wendell Porter of the school´s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. He sees solar power as a viable way to supplement other sources. "People up north might use a system like this to provide backup lighting and refrigeration," he says. "You could put in a smaller and less expensive system than you would use to run an entire house."

Of course some solar-power aficionados already are doing just that. One Maine family with a roof made of solar panels spent less than $20 on electricity last January, the region´s coldest winter month.

Join today and get a 1 year subscription to National Wildlife magazine
     Flickr Icon           Find NWF on Facebook.           Follow NWF on Twitter.           YouTube Icon    
People's Choice Award
sunflower with shades by Hira Punjabi

Judges pick the prize winners but you pick the People's Choice Award winner in this year's National Wildlife Photo Contest!

Vote for your favorite photos >>

Connecting...
Certify your yard today!