What’s it like to live in a solar-powered home?

By Bridgett Lynn

photo credit: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Although using solar-power is a cleaner way to create energy, we still depend on coal since it’s less expensive (among other reasons). However, one of the houses at the Solar Decathlon this year called WaterShed claims that their solar-powered home will save homeowners money. 

photo credit: University of Maryland

WaterShed harvests 100% of its electrical energy needs from the sun and won the Solar Decathlon this year because they proved to be the overall best affordable, energy-efficient, and attractive home there.

What are some ways WaterShed uses solar-power?

1) They have photovaltaic arrays on their roof tops which converts sunlight into power, which is distributed throughout the house. They designed the roof tops to slope in which sort of hides the fact that there are solar panels up there.

2) WaterShed also has a solar thermal wall shading their east-facing entry deck. It collects energy from the sun and transfers it to two well insulated water tanks in the mechanical room. The wall is a little strange looking but kind of cool at the same time.

photo credit: http://inhabitat.com

3) WaterShed’s heating and cooling system uses heat from the solar thermal array to drive excess humidity out of their innovative Liquid Desiccant Water (LDW) system. The LDW system uses a high-saline liquid solution that absorbs humidity from the air, reducing the load on the mini-split air conditioners. The excess humidity that’s driven out of the desiccant by the solar thermal gets regenerated for future use.

photo credit: http://inhabitat.com

There are two “waterfalls” or LDW systems in WaterShed. In the picture above, the waterfall isn’t turned on. When it is, there’s a yellowish light on and you can see all the water droplets inside which is pretty.

Want to know more?

Planet Forward has done a great job covering the Solar Decathlon and of course you can go to Team Maryland’s WaterShed page to learn more about the house.

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One thought on “What’s it like to live in a solar-powered home?

  1. Hi Bridgett,

    You did a nice job of incorporating the criticisms I emailed to you over the weekend. The photos are great. Remember to keep in mind the idea of a narrative versus a report. A blog post should flow naturally like a conversation, though still working around a main point. Good work.

    Best,

    Melissa M

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