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LED & Compact Fluorescent Light Blubs

If every American home replaced just one light bulb with CFL bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.

  • CFL bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.
  • Save about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb's lifetime.
  • Produce about 75 percent less heat, so they're safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.

The best areas to use qualified CFLs in are usually found in the following areas of your home:

  • family and living rooms
  • kitchen
  • dining room
  • bedrooms
  • outdoors

Low E Windows

Low-E Windows, the abbreviation for Low Emissivity Windows, the glass portion of the window has an invisible, metallic coating that admits the full spectrum of sunlight but blocks radiant heat from escaping. During the winter months, between 70% and 75% percent of the heat that would otherwise escape from the house is reflected back into the home for energy savings. Because the coating also increases the inside window's surface temperature, areas near them are more comfortable on cold winter nights.

During the cooling season, as much as 25% percent of the unwanted heat that would otherwise enter the house is reflected to the outside. The low-E coating blocks ultraviolet light which would normally fade fabrics and other materials.

It is applied to either one of the inner surfaces of a sealed-double pane window or suspended between the panes on a thin piece of plastic glazing. Suspending it between the panes has the added advantage of raising the window's insulating value to that of a triple glazed window. Some low-E window manufacturers fill the air space between the glazing layers with Argon or other inert gases to further increase the insulating value.

For existing windows, low-E coatings are also available on films which can be applied to the inside surfaces. They are less common than the solar films designed solely to block sunlight.

Low-E windows can achieve R-values as high an R-5 value, a marked improvement over the R-1 value single pane, or even R-2 value double pane windows. Low-E windows cost more than standard windows and allow slightly less light to enter, but are often cost effective in extremely hot or cold climates.


Photovoltaics are best known as a method for generating solar electric power by using solar cells packaged in photovoltaic modules, often electrically connected in multiples as solar photovoltaic arrays to convert energy from the sun into electricity. To explain the photovoltaic solar panel more simply, photons from sunlight knock electrons into a higher state of energy, creating electricity.

The term photovoltaic denotes the unbiased operating mode of a photodiode in which current through the device is entirely due to the transduced light energy. Virtually all photovoltaic devices are some type of photodiode.

Solar cells produce direct current electricity from light, which can be used to power equipment or to recharge a battery. The first practical application of photovoltaics was to power orbiting satellites and other spacecraft, but today the majority of photovoltaic modules are used for grid connected power generation. In this case an inverter is required to convert the DC to AC. There is a smaller market for off grid power for remote dwellings, roadside emergency telephones, remote sensing, and cathodic protection of pipelines.

Cells require protection from the environment and are packaged usually behind a glass sheet. When more power is required than a single cell can deliver, cells are electrically connected together to form photovoltaic modules, or solar panels. A single module is enough to power an emergency telephone, but for a house or a power plant the modules must be arranged in arrays. Although the selling price of modules is still too high to compete with grid electricity in most places, significant financial incentives in Japan and then Germany triggered a huge growth in demand, followed quickly by production.

The EPIA/Greenpeace Advanced Scenario shows that by the year 2030, PV systems could be generating approximately 2,600 TWh of electricity around the world. This means that, assuming a serious commitment is made to energy efficiency, enough solar power would be produced globally in twenty-five years’ time to satisfy the electricity needs of almost 14% of the world’s population.

Solar Water Heater

How do the solar hot water heaters work?

Solar water heating systems include storage tanks and solar collectors. There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don't.

Most solar water heaters require a well-insulated storage tank. Solar storage tanks have an additional outlet and inlet connected to and from the collector. In two-tank systems, the solar water heater preheats water before it enters the conventional water heater. In one-tank systems, the back-up heater is combined with the solar storage in one tank.

Three types of solar collectors are used for residential applications:

  • Flat-plate collector

    Glazed flat-plate collectors are insulated, weatherproofed boxes that contain a dark absorber plate under one or more glass or plastic (polymer) covers. Unglazed flat-plate collectors—typically used for solar pool heating—have a dark absorber plate, made of metal or polymer, without a cover or enclosure.

  • Integral collector-storage systems

    Also known as ICS or batch systems, they feature one or more black tanks or tubes in an insulated, glazed box. Cold water first passes through the solar collector, which preheats the water. The water then continues on to the conventional backup water heater, providing a reliable source of hot water. They should be installed only in mild-freeze climates because the outdoor pipes could freeze in severe, cold weather.

  • Evacuated-tube solar collectors

    They feature parallel rows of transparent glass tubes. Each tube contains a glass outer tube and metal absorber tube attached to a fin. The fin's coating absorbs solar energy but inhibits radiative heat loss. These collectors are used more frequently for U.S. commercial applications.