The number one reason that solar power hasn't been more popular with consumers is because of the high initial investment. As much as people want to help the environment, the price is simply not affordable for many. Fortunately, advances in material science and semiconductor manufacturing have reduced the cost of solar-generated electricity, and should continue to bring costs down in the future. As an added benefit, those who choose to convert to solar power will enjoy savings on their utility bills to help offset the initial investment in "going green."
A huge advantage of solar power is that it is a clean and renewable resource. By contrast, oil is a limited resource that has damaging effects on the environment. Oil is a concentrated form of energy that can provide instantaneous heat and work. However, it needs to be extracted from the ground, transported long distances and then refined into useful products such as home heating-oil and gasoline. It causes pollution, damages the atmosphere and is becoming a scarce commodity.
In comparison, the future of solar energy seems bright. This environmentally-friendly, pollution-free energy source can be used to heat and power our homes, and of course, can also be used to grow our food. Solar power does not emit harmful greenhouse gases, and it's freely available and renewable. Each day when the sun comes up, we have another opportunity to harness its energy.
Architects have been taking advantage of this free heat for millennia. Passive solar collectors can be designed into buildings to dramatically reduce energy consumption. Simple considerations in home design, such as south-facing windows, are easy, low-maintenance techniques that brings the sun's energy into indoor environments. Besides solar home heating, residential homes can also use solar water heating.
Solar power shows promise as an alternative to oil. Improvements in heat storage systems are still decades away from completely replacing oil and gas furnaces. But for now, they can help reduce fuel consumption by supplementing fuel-hungry furnaces.