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Urban Homesteading: Alternative Energy - Affordable Solar Power

written by: J.C. Wilkinson•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 6/7/2010

Do you think you can't afford solar power for your urban homestead? After reading this article, you may change your mind. There are many ways to use the power of the sun without breaking the bank.

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    How Much Does it Cost?

    As an urban homesteader, you may want to look toward using alternative energy sources. The most obvious source of alternative energy is the sun.

    While solar power is clean and plentiful, solar systems can be very expensive. For between $10,000 and $30,000, you can purchase a professionally installed solar system that will supply enough power for everything in your house except heating/cooling. For the average user, it would take between 7 and 10 years to recoup your investment. By selling excess power to your electric company, you could recoup it more quickly. Unfortunately, most of them don't have that option yet.

    While there are sites online with instructions on building a solar cell for less than $200, you must have some skills to do it. According to these sites, the batteries and other accessories you'll need can be purchased inexpensively on auction sites.

    8 of these cells should provide sufficient power for the average home. Using power saving methods, such as CFL bulbs, smaller appliances, and hanging your clothes for drying will help lessen the power load.

    While there is labor involved, and the quality is not as high as a professionally built and installed system, you can possibly have solar power for roughly 1/10th the cost of a professionally installed system. Even one cell can reduce your electric bill and put you on your way to energy self-sufficiency.

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    Other Ways to Use Solar Energy to Save Money

    Using a solar cooker is a very inexpensive way to use solar power on your urban homestead. Solar cookers can be made with everyday materials. They can simply be constructed of cardboard boxes and aluminum foil. Solar cookers are excellent slow cookers, and you can even bake bread in larger models. If you live in a very sunny environment, a solar cooker will save you more money than using a crock pot. Solar cookers are excellent for drying and dehydrating food. For around $50, you can build a nice sized sturdy oven, or even find one used for around $100.

    Solar outdoor lighting on your urban homestead can also reduce your electric bill. Outdoor solar lights can be purchased at home supply stores. They come individually or in sets, and are reasonably priced. They are available for security lighting, or path lighting.

    Small, portable solar chargers are available for laptops, cell phones and ipods. Using these also helps reduce the number of batteries ending up in landfills.

    Even if you can't afford solar power for your entire home, you can see there are some affordable ways to include its use in your urban homestead. Think of the power we would save if we simply recharged our laptops and cell phones with solar power. The price of solar power will go down as more people use it. Put away the money you save with smaller applications, and one day, you too could have a total solar house on your urban homestead..

Urban Homesteading in Florida and Beyond

Want to be more self-sufficient? Urban homesteading is the act of taking any city space you have, be it an apartment balcony or a small city lot, and turning it green. Whether you grow a few vegetables or move completely off the grid, it's an adventure you won't regret!
  1. The Urban Homesteading Phenomenon: Self-Sufficiency on a City Lot.
  2. Urban Gardening: Planning Your Vegetable and Herb Garden
  3. Urban Homesteading: Alternative Energy - Affordable Solar Power
  4. Urban Homesteading: Water Catchment Systems - Using Rainbarrels to Recycle Rainwater
  5. Urban Homesteading: Making Money From Your Urban Homestead