We’re talking regularly with others these days – almost daily – about how we’ve designed our lives at Longleaf Breeze. By far the most frequent question is “Do you have solar panels?” The short answer is this: no we don’t, but we plan to install some soon. But there’s a longer, more complete answer; this podcast and the one to follow next week are our way of providing it. No, we don’t, because we wanted first to lay the groundwork by maximizing our use of direct solar energy and minimizing our electricity usage rate. We know that if we tried to live like most Americans and power our lives using photovoltaic panels, we would be either frustrated, or penniless, or both. Solar energy is great, and we’re grateful for it, but it produces electricity in tiny amounts compared to fossil-fuel-driven generators.
This week we focus on direct solar energy, using the heat and light from the sun without trying to convert it into electricity first. We talk about using the sun to stay warm and avoid its direct radiation to stay cool. On using the heat of the sun for cooking. On heating our water using the heat of the sun so we don’t have to use propane. On drying clothes by the heat of the sun so we don’t need to use the dryer. And on careful but minor design changes so we have plenty of light from the sun and don’t need to turn on any lights during the day.
Next week we’ll deal with indirect use of the sun’s energy, converting it into something else first. That includes photovoltaic panels, of course, but it also includes heating with wood and growing food using photosynthesis.