AVAILABLE NOW! We have partnered with Solar Energy Advocates, the regions FIRST independent Solar consultant, to offer you for the first time a unique product combining the expertise of a Solar Energy Advocate with a full-service Green Mortgage Company allowing you, the Green consumer, to make your Solar Energy dreams come true! Contact us for more info by e-mailing jennifer@oldvalleyhomes-loans.com.

Solar Energy Basics

Photo of the sun striking photovoltaic panels.

Sunlight—through photovoltaic technology—provides this building at Oberlin College with electricity.

The sun's heat and light provide an abundant source of energy that can be harnessed in many ways. There are a variety of technologies that have been developed to take advantage of solar energy. These include concentrating solar power systems, passive solar heating and daylighting, photovoltaic systems, solar hot water, and solar process heat and space heating and cooling.

Solar power can be used in both large-scale applications and in smaller systems for the home. Businesses and industry can diversify their energy sources, improve efficiency, and save money by choosing solar technologies for heating and cooling, industrial processes, electricity, and water heating. Homeowners can also use solar technologies for heating and cooling and water heating, and may even be able to produce enough electricity to operate "off-grid" or to sell the extra electricity to the utilities, depending on local programs. The use of passive solar heating and daylighting design strategies can help both homes and commercial buildings operate more efficiently and make them more pleasant and comfortable places in which to live and work.

Other Resources

Solar Energy Technologies Program
DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Small Solar Electric Systems
EERE Consumer's Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Solar Water Heaters
EERE Consumer's Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Passive Solar Home Design
EERE Consumer's Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Beyond these localized uses of solar power, utilities and power plants are also taking advantage of the sun's abundant energy resource and offering the benefits to their customers. Concentrating solar power systems allow power plants to produce electricity from the sun on a larger scale, which in turn allows consumers to take advantage of solar power without making the investment in personal solar technology systems.

Solar power technologies, from individual home systems to large-scale concentrating solar power systems, have the potential to help meet growing energy needs and provide diversity and reliability in energy supplies.

Photo of solar panels on the roof of a house.View this short video from the U.S. Department of Energy to learn more about how solar panels work.

NREL performs research to develop and advance all of these technologies: