Ken Carman suggests a way to get more for less from your solar panels, as well as some other good ideas:
Two of the biggest challenges to creating an effective solar PV system are cost and the lack of available light in the winter.
Photovoltaic panels (PV) are very expensive. A decent panel runs between $55 and $65 dollars per square foot.
Mirrors, on the other hand, are very inexpensive. You can go to a home building center and purchase mirror tiles for less than $1.50 per square foot.
My suggestion is to invest less in solar panels for your home(system) and instead place mirrors around your array at a fraction of the cost. You will be able to dramatically increase the amount of sunlight that hits your panels in the winter . . . even above and beyond what additional panels would have collected . . . at an incredible savings. (Caution would have to be taken to not overheat your panels in the summer).
This application would work equally well on solar water heating systems. A 50 gallon solar water heater can cost upwards of $1000 or more. Don’t you think that $50 worth of mirror (enough to double the effective collecting surface of your system), would be a worthwhile investment?
On another subject – Why don’t we place windmills on top of some of our tallest buildings where we can get them up to where the winds are stronger and more consistent, and where we would not have expensive transmission costs since the power could be used for the building it is sitting on.
To read about more energy saving ideas (like a blanket for your jacuzzi while in use) go to www.pandscorp.org