Thursday, November 12, 2009


I'm a great believer in the marvelous, free source of energy, the Sun; solar energy, solar power, solar cooking, solar heating - all these terms just "turn me on".

I remember holding in my hands a little book named "How to live without electricity - and like it" by Anita Evanghelista. I said to myself : with such a title and with such an author's name , the book must be interesting. It was. Especially the chapter which deals with solar cooking. The author mentions there cooking a casserole. Casserole? It took me nearly an hour to boil some water for a cup of coffee. But the blame is on me - lack of practice in handling the solar cooking device and also the fact that I had to wear heavy-duty sunglasses (according to the instructions in the book) which is not exactly something I'm used to in my conventional cooking.

And then there was this other litttle book "547 ways to be fuel smart" by Roger Albright. Again, I said to myself : such a precision, not 500 and not 600 but 547 - there must be something in this book. There was. I learnt from it , among other things, that the simple, primitive device known as the clothesline on which I hang out my clothes , is in fact a solar dryer, and I happen to agree with the author "it works like a charm ..." and saves money. Wow! I was using a solar dryer and I didn't even know that!

But the book that got me daydreaming ( on the possibility of living in a solar house), was "The solar home" by Mark Freeman. On the back cover of this book, a smashing pair of sentences caught my eye. Listen to this: "Baking really good bread is difficult. Building a house is easy". I totally agree with the first sentence, but as to the second one, if it's easy to build a house how come he wrote a whole book on that?!!

(Honestly, the above three mentioned books are good books on the solar subject as opposed to a fourth book which I won't even mention its title and name of author. This book had great publicity and I was extremely dissappointed by it).

Although Israel , where I live, is a country with sunny days most of the year, the only significant use of the sun's energy is displayed in the water heaters that cover roof-tops all over the country.

I've always been fascinated by the work of these south-facing water heaters. The unit consists of a water storage tank, and two flat panels that absorb solar radiation, and heat the water in the tank. Even in winter, if there are sunny days, there'll be hot water in the storage tank, and from there, through insulated pipes, in the bathroom and kitchen taps. It saves a lot of money on the electricity bill. and a good heating system can last as much as twenty years.

There are three main models of solar heating systems (enlarge attached pictures) : a vertical tank with two panels (collectors), a vertical tank with only one( big ) panel, and the latest model: an horizontal tank with one panel. In my non-expert opinion, the oldest model is the most efficient one; besides, if one panel happens to get damaged, you can carry on for a while with the remaining one and still get hot water . The other two models evolved out of esthetic considerations.

(On solar gadgets, and on my tiny collection of solar items in slideshow format - in another post).

vertical tank with one panel; vertical tank with two panels

horizontal tank with solar panel


  1. Funny take on goin' green. I would love to use more solar but here in Missouri the winters are hard and long. We have many gray days. I always open the blinds to help warm up the house.

    Last year when we gutted and remodeled several rooms in our house we installed a tankless hot-water heater. We love it, it only heats the water as we use it. It uses propane, the sun is a much better deal.

    Have a fantastic weekend, Duta. I always enjoy your stories. God bless!!!

  2. Very interesting post. I am a big fan of using a solar dryer myself and up to recently always used it. I also used drying racks for alot of clothes. I leave my windows curtainless to allow in as much sun as possible and to make my home cheery as well! Every little bit that we all do will help us all. Have a nice weekend.

  3. I used to love to hang out sheets and other laundry. There is nothing as clean as that smell. But, you don't see many clotheslines these days in town. Some of the farm houses still have them. I still will put things on hangers and hang them on the patio chairs once in a while. Sue

  4. Our "Solar Dryer" is in use all the time, unless the need is urgent, and it's raining. Many communities in Canada passed by-laws in the 70's banning clothes lines for aesthetic reasons. These are now being abolished as we all learn to live within our means-the energy savings are huge, as the dryer is an extremely high consumer of electricity.

  5. We are enthusiastic about solar power here in SW France, where we manage to get quite a good percentage of sunny days throughout the year. This is something definitely in the pipeline. And I love my rotary washing line being renamed a solar dryer. Everyone here still has them, and lots have solar water heaters for the summer months. Interesting blog, Duta, as always.

  6. Duta,
    One day I, because my dryer was on the fritz, rigged our backyard in this zig-zag pattern with a clothesline.

    I was SO proud of myself until another family member commented negatively, after I'd opened the back door and make a sweeping motion with my hand like Vana White on The Wheel of Fortune- "Look what I did!"

    "Yeah. Great. Now you have the total trailer park look going on."

  7. I'm a little excited by solar myself I must admit. I don't know why - a sort of Sun God throwback perhaps?

  8. Wonderful post, Duta. I'm a big fan of using solar energy whenever possible. It would be a dream come true to build a home that only used "mother nature" to heat it! I'm happy you are bringing attention to this issue. It is so important to protect our planet and do what we can to make the world a better place. I love the clothesline as a solar dryer...LOL
    I read once about a woman who planted lavender bushes under the clothesline and all the clothes would take on the lovely scent :)
    Ahhhh, one can dream :)
    Have a Wonderful Weekend, Duta :)
    Love to You :)

  9. Such a great post, Duta!
    Solar power is the best!
    Thank you so much for sharing and have a wonderful weeeknd!


  10. I'll have to consider setting up a clothesline in the spring - we're so spoiled with our dryer sheets & softeners, but I don't think it would hurt a thing to have naturally dried clothes...

  11. Interesting post. I grew up with my family using the solar dryer. We lived in Iowa (very cold and damp winters). Mom still hung out the clothes, which would freeze dry. They would be stiff as boards when we brought them in and would have to thaw beside the wood stove we heated our house with. To this day, I still love the smell of fresh laundry dried outside. Thanks for bringing back such a wonderful memory.

  12. I'm all for using solar energy but we are so behind the times here. I don't think I could find anyone to do the installation.

  13. My mother would be so proud, if she were still alive, to know that her clothes line was considered a "solar dryer.

    I live in upper northern California, USA, near the Oregon border. We have a lot of good weather. There are many, entirely solar, homes. One of my good friend lives in the mountains about 45 minute from me and her house is what is called "off the grid." Not hooked to any utility systems. They have a wonderful green system of living.

  14. I totally agree! We must all harness the magic of the sun...

  15. Its great to read a post so bustling with green passion! I am a big supporter of green energy (although the location of some Irish wind turbines is a bit contentious). My mother has solar panels on the roof of the house she leases. Hot water all year round as even on dull grey winter days, those panels still harness that wonderful solar energy. I find around the house there are so many things one can do to lessen electricity bills and save energy. Drying clothes outside or just on a rack inside is great also switching off all appliances that sit on stand-by works too.

  16. I thought that maybe the tanks would be ugly and distract from the view of the house, but they really aren't that big. I could live with those!

    I too love hanging clothes out on the line and the smell of fresh air & sunshine on the, especially on bedding when you hop into bed at night.

    Interesting post as always Duta!

  17. NEZZY - Grey days don't go well with solar energy. Well, nobody has everything.
    God bless you too!

    CHERYL - It looks You're solar-oriented and that's fine. Have a nice weekend too!

    SUE (Someone's Mom) - There's nothing, indeed, like the fresh smell of laundry dried outside on the clothesline.

    SUSAN - I'm glad to hear that the laws banning the use of clothesline are being abolished. Commom sense won.

    VERA - I definitely share your enthusiasm about solar power. It's a blessing and it should be used wherever there's a fair amount of sunny days per year.

    ENTREPENEUR CHICK - One shouldn't be intimidated by anyobody, if you think you do the right thing for yourself.

    JPT - You should be excited; solar power has many advantages: it's free, it's clean, it's money saving.

    TheChickGeek - I like your story with the lavender bushes under the clothesline; It makes sense and gives one ideas. Thanks.Have a wonderful weekend too!

    MARGIE - Thank you for your warm words. Indeed, "Solar power is the best".

    The BUG - Go Ahead with this "naturally dried clothes" plan. It's only for the Best.

    C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson - It wasn't easy in those days, and in those cold winters, and yet the memories of your Mom hanging out the clothes are wonderful.

    KYS - The truth is that installations and professional work are costly and not available everywhere. You must be a solar 'freak' to achieve your goal.

    RONDA LAVEEN - I envy your good friend and all those who live "off the grid". In your region, upper California, the good weather and the wide spaces make this possible.

    Miss ELENA-EOUS - Well said. We should all put the sun to work for us and enjoy its magic power.

    RAINY WEST - I'm glad to hear you're a supporter of green energy. You're so right about the many things one can do to save electricity and money!

    ALICIA - I think You can choose whatever size of storage tank you wish; The typical domestic unit consists of a 150 liter storage tank and a 2sq.m flat panel.

  18. I love the "solar dryer". ..however, as someone else mentioned, my homeowners association wouldn't allow it. ..perhaps I need to attend a meeting. ..fresh, clean scent is the by-product of the outdoor dryer. ..regards

  19. I've gotten miles better at recycling my trash but the not at solar heating. I do leave my windows bare where the sun can come in. That's not much though.
    I'm sending the following to all the blogs I follow.
    To those on my Reading List:
    Please do me a favor. Would you go to my blog and “follow” me again? Because I changed my URL, I have lost many of my readers. I know you can still hunt me down, but this will make it ever so much easier on you. I will once again show up on your Reader and Blog Roll. I knew this would happen but needed to change to be more representative of who I am now. I think this is the best fix. Thanks for your time. If you have another solution, let me know! Thanky!!!!!

  20. Coralee,

    Well, there's always someone to interfere and prevent good things: a neighbour, homeowner's association.. Pity.

  21. Just Playin'

    I lost you on my list. It is you who should send me again a "follower". Please do!

  22. I have recently been thinking about the earth, the atmosphere...How long can we sustain pulling so much electric power & energy from our source of life?

  23. Across the globe there not many countries who make such heavy use of dryers, it's still the clothes line (didn't know that it was solar though -as you put it in a humorous way). Hubby who's in the building business says that solar is coming "un" again! (in the USA)

  24. Great post! I also agree with and believe in using the sun's vast, free energy! I am from Canad but live in Ghana, West Africa.

    Here the sun shines 90% of the year, but yet almost no one uses solar energy - not even for water heaters on the roofs!!! (I saw alot of those recently in Turkey). WHY? I really wonder.

    Electricity is not a given here - for example, the area I live in has had no electricity for the past 24 hours. We are left to our own devices... if only solar power were used here!!!

    Anyway, glad to have found your blog - I am your newest follower!

    Holli in Ghana

  25. Jennifer,

    How long indeed. Perhaps not much longer. Drastic measures have to be taken to protect the earth,or else disaster will occur on the whole planet.

    Jeannette Stgermain,

    Your hubby may be right. The consummers wish cheap, clean energy and are putting a lot of pressure on the government to take measures in this direction.

    The pale observer,

    Welcome Holli!
    Ghana is an ideal place for use of solar energy, and it's a great pity the government in this country does nothing about it.

  26. I think the trick is in flexibility: use the sun when it's out, the winds when they're blowing, the tide when it's high, and so on.

  27. Much like Susan's comment about Canada, here in the states it is illegal, in some towns, to hang laundry out to dry. Apparently some people are offended by the sight of a neighbors undergarments.
    People like things like rooftop solar water heaters and solar electric conversions because they are expensive. It's prestigious to say that you've spent thousands to install energy efficient equipment. Clothes lines are not prestigious. They make the modern consumer look like he or she can't afford an insanely inefficient electric clothes dryer- like the one that is currently running, at great expense, in the next room. When I first moved here I asked my landlords if I could install a clothes line. They thought that was a disturbing request. They said no. "I don't think anyone around here would want to look at something like that."
    I grew up when clothes lines were ordinary and indoor dryers were unusual. As a child I loved running in between damp bed sheets as they dried on the line.
    I should add that my wasteful electric dryer is running on beautiful sunny day. What a waste, eh?

  28. TallTchr,

    Thanks for stopping by. You are right , of course. Flexibility's the principle, and you expressed that beautifully.


    Your "wasteful electric dryer running on beautiful sunny day." - that sums it all up. What a waste of electricity and money when there's such a simple, cheap solution at hand.

  29. This is a great, and timely post, DUTA. The time is now when it comes to adopting new practices to make a difference. Even if a person can't take their home entirely "Green" we can each do something, and look into what we can do.

    In a lot of home owner's association communities clotheslines aren't allowed. If you live in an HOA next time your board meets, propose that be stricken from the bylaws. That's precisely what happened here. All Green measures were approved, including solar panels, and clotheslines.

    There's actually a bunch of things that can be done, for instance if you can't hang a clothesline (and even if you can) consider switching doing all of your laundry on the Cold cycle.

    If you run a search on "Reducing your carbon footprint" or "Going Green" it's amazing how many small, and entirely painless things there are to do.

    The process of converting this house to green systems is going to be rather expensive, and we have to do one thing at a time. In the meantime, we've found greener ways to work with the systems we have now.

    Thanks for a great reminder to keep this in the forefront of our consciousness, DUTA!

  30. Hi Duta,

    When we bought our house, the first thing we got were solar panels to heat the pool. There were panels already on the roof but they were old and placed in the wrong position (away from sun!).

    Our next house is going to be completely energy efficient by utilizing the energy from our natural resources. I can't wait, it is a couple years away still.

  31. Land of Shimp,

    I can't but agree with what is said in your, as usual, interesting comment.
    The cost of converting houses into ones run by green systems is high; perhaps the government will encourage the trend and undertake to subsidize it.


    Good Luck with your future energy efficient house! You'll be the envy of everyone.

  32. This is so interesting post and useful information.

  33. Phivos Nicolaides,

    Thank you. After all, Israel and Cyprus are both in the Mediterranean region, with a sunny climate - and the solar topic is common to both countries.

  34. Wow! Thanks for that post! It is really interesting & you really ARE taking me around the world!

  35. Libbie,

    You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment.

  36. Duta
    Solar power. I like the warmth of solar power which Maggie and I enjoy from the sun every evening out front. Peace

  37. Lady Di Tn,

    Do keep enjoying it! There's nothing like the warmth of the sun to please and soothe our bodies.

  38. TO DUTA
    Thank you for looking at VIEWS FROM THE CASTLE,you are welcome to join the party with my other followers any time.
    Your solar energy post was most interesting and i would have it if i could.
    Here in Ireland,we get very little sun,even the little solar garden lights do not work very often.The local council,wanted to put wind turbines on the mountain but the population round here turned them down as we live in a natural beauty spot and they said it would spoil the views and put off the tourists.Please send some of your sun to us !!!!

  39. Matron,
    Welcome to my little blog! I wish I could send some of our sun to Ireland! I think wind power could indeed bring some benefit to the population, and it should be seriously considered.

  40. I have just been talking to a friend about solar power ( after reading your post ) and she told me that she has two solar panels on the roof, they only work in the summer ,but even if it is dull,with limited sun,they work and reduce her electricity bill. Thanks to you and my friend,i am going to look into getting some.

  41. matron,

    I'm glad I could be of some help. Do look into the matter of solar panels, it could really reduce your electricity bill. Good Luck!

  42. One day, my plans are to convert the roof shingles to metal, add solar panels, add gutters to catch the rain water, change the windows to insulated ones, and actually INSULATE my house! it was built in the early 1960's and has no insulation! But other than that is is a wonderful home!

    I love your blog! Thanks for sharing all your knowledge!