Energy efficient design is an inbuilt part of creating energy efficient buildings that are sustainable. One of the principal components of energy efficient design is the whole element of usage of natural renewable sources of energy. Interestingly there is a significant number of energy sources open to building developers. Solar energy is definitely one of the most extravagantly available generators of energy that can be broached into in the market.
Designing Sustainably Using Energy Efficient Buildings That Use Solar Energy
As a naturally obtained source of energy, solar energy provides a great alternative power source especially within the equatorial regions of the earth where it is available in good intensity for much of the year. As a source of energy, it can be harnessed to provide power for many appliances in the home or office with the right equipment outlay. Solar energy is a clean source of energy that can hedge users from escalating petroleum based fuel prices.
In the past, solar energy had a big challenge in that the systems that were available for harnessing the sun’s energy were not very efficient in creation of electrical energy. This means that there was a disparity between the level of power output and the financial outlay required, with only small energy output being achieved from substantial financial investment.
Options for achieving solar powered energy efficient buildings and Green design
That was in the past however, as advancement in technology has now made it possible to achieve better power output from solar installations, and the costs of solar installations too have come down. There are building trends towards creation of buildings that harness solar power as part of their energy arsenal within the region, as evidenced by many buildings coming up with integrated solar systems within them.
Solar panels harness solar energy through their photovoltaic cells. These are the most costly aspect of solar technology as they have a relatively high cost consideration attached to them. Nevertheless despite their high initial cost, these cells are virtually free of maintenance thereafter, short of cleaning and occasional service.The savings that will result from having almost nil power consumption from the national grid means that there are major savings that result over time. In essence, comparing the savings that result from solar power supply to conventional power supply from the national grid means that the installation can pay for itself back over a reasonably short period of time, which makes it very viable. Indeed this characteristic of green buildings demonstrates that they may have marginally higher investment cost at the onset, but they pay for themselves very rapidly due to their low maintenance and recurrent expenditure. They thus become more sustainable and viable than ordinary buildings without these kinds of provisions.
Heating using solar in energy efficient buildings
By far the most common use of solar panels in Kenya is for the purpose of heating water. Hot water supply in the context of a home or office is a recurrent cost that can be quite substantial as regards the energy expenditure in a given home. There is constant heating of water for various uses, whether for bathing, cooking or washing at various levels. Even commercial and industrial concerns have high demand for heated water in their industrial processes.
Heating water through solar panels uses a process where water flows through a system that receives the sun’s radiation and heats water that is flowing through pipes within the solar panel. The heated water is then stored within insulated water tanks to keep their temperature up. In order for this system to work well, the solar panels must be installed on surfaces which receive plenty of sunshine, especially on building rooftops. During cold seasons where sun radiation is reduced, the process of water heating may need to be supplemented by other heat sources.A normal solar powered system comes with solar panels accompanied with a system of inverters and batteries for storing harvested power. The inverters convert the power received from the the solar panels, which is then stored in batteries. This energy can then be used in the evening when the sun goes down. One may note that the full power load of a home may be too substantial for it to be fully supported on solar energy, as the financial outlay to provide panels that will support the full electrical load of a home may be too high for an ordinary household. That notwithstanding, a middle ground can be reached by having solar energy supplying power to the most essential appliances in the home, such as the refrigerator and lighting system.
In this way, solar energy can be harnessed to enhance energy efficient buildings .