Not ready for a full-scale renewable energy home system? Get some green energy in your life for less money.
A Clothesline: If your neighborhood allows outdoor clotheslines, consider installing one and let the sun dry your clothes. (If it doesn’t, try an indoor drying rack—also a good option if you have pollen allergies.) The set-up cost is minimal (especially if you have a pair of optimally set trees to hold your line), and you’ll save nearly $11 for every ten loads.
Solar Battery Charger: Stop buying batteries and start using the power of the sun. Get a set of rechargeable batteries and a solar battery charger, and you’ll avoid needless battery waste. This 20-Watt Solar Battery Charger charges two or four AAA, AA, C, D, and 9V batteries at a pop. $129.95, or buy a DIY kit and build your own charger for AA and AAA batteries for $24.95, Sundance Solar.
Solar Bike Lights: Never run out of batteries for your bike lights again. Many solar bike lights can be powered either by the sun or a USB charge. Buy two, and use one as a headlight and one as a taillight. $16+, various stores.
Solar Holiday Lights: Tired of running extension cords through your yard when you want a little holiday cheer? You don’t need cords to put up this Multi-Color Solar Christmas Light String. The lights can run for eight hours on a charge. $19 with quantity discounts, OutdoorSolarStore.com.
A little more cash:
Solar Attic Fan: Attic fans pull stale air out of your home and replace it with fresh air. They’ll also cool your home in the summer. The Fan-Attic Solar-Powered Attic Fan helps you save even more energy, since it gets all of its power from the sun. And it’s automatically programmed to turn on when your home reaches 80° F or higher, and turn off when it cools to 70°. $350.95, positive-energy.com.
Solar Water Heater: Replace your conventional water heater with one that harnesses free solar power. A solar water heater is reliable even in cloudy weather, and it’ll likely cut your water-heating bills in half. $3,000-$10,000, including installation, with additional tax incentives available in some areas—check dsireusa.gov. Available at various stores.
Solar generator: Do you keep a generator on hand in case you lose power? Go off-grid but still keep the lights on with the Nature SolarPak Solar 1800 Solar Generator. The generator provides up to 1800 watts of power and boasts six AC outlets and two USB charging ports. $999.99, Earth Tech Products.
Does your utility lack a green energy option?
You may be able to sign up with an independent provider like CleanChoice Energy, which operates in eight states and the District of Columbia, with more to come, or Inspire, which operates in six states. With both, you keep on paying your utility, and CleanChoice or Inspire works with that utility to ensure the energy you purchase comes from green sources. CleanChoice also donates to Green America with every signup.