By: Susan Banks Sr As the cost of conventional sources of energy continues to rise solar power is now more than ever a clean and viable source of energy for the home and for business. Billions of dollars have been spent in the United States over the past couple of decades in promoting and developing this technology. In this article we look at some of the benefits of solar energy.It is estimated that the cost of the equipment to power a home with solar energy is 90 per cent cheaper than it was in the 1970s. And with energy bills rising rapidly it is now an increasingly attractive source of electricity.In most cases, using solar energy to provide electricity for a home involves installing special solar photovoltaic cells in the roof of your home. It is true that the initial investment is quite expensive but this money should be recouped in savings on electricity bills over time and significant savings can be made in the long-term.In sunnier areas solar power can meet and even exceed an average home's electricity needs at certain times of the day. Excess electricity can be stored in batteries or in certain areas it can even be sold back to electricity supply companies. Here are some of the main benefits of solar energy:* It's cheap - Once you make the initial investment to have solar technology installed in your home it is a free source of energy. Once it has paid for itself you can make make significant savings on your energy bills. You may even qualify for government incentives to help cover the cost. What is more it will add significantly to the value of your home. Green homes are becoming ever more popular in today's environmentally aware climate so this investment will increase your home's value and make it easier to sell if you ever move on.* It's clean - Solar is one of the cleanest and environmentally friendly sources of energy out there. If you want to do your bit to combat climate change solar energy is the way to go.* It's easy - Solar energy systems require very little maintenance. Once the system is installed you will have a constant source of energy and you won't have to worry about adding extra fuel, paying bills and the other chores associated with conventional sources of energy.* It's consistent - If you use solar energy you do not have to worry about power failures. Even if your traditional source of electricity fails you will still have a back-up. In addition, if you live in a remote area that does not have easy access to centralized sources of electricity solar is an excellent alternative.* It's neat - Even if you live in a heavily populated area installing solar panels should be no problem. Since they slot easily into the roof of your home there is no need for them to take up precious garden space. Also, while the panels themselves are costly, they are very easy and quick to install.* It's wire free - There are a number of stand alone solar-powered appliances available today that eliminate the need for wiring. For example, you can install solar powered garden lights that you simply place in your garden that run of the sun's energy. These even have light sensors so they switch off and on automatically depending on the light.The use of photovoltaic cells in the home can be quite expensive. However, it is not the only way to make use of the sun's energy. In colder regions homes are increasingly being designed to make the best use of the sun's energy to provide warmth. This involves sensible design of houses by using methods such as having large glass windows on the south side of the home which will help warm the home during the winter. The home will need to be protected from too much sun in the summer so trees can be used for this.Another option is to use the sun to provide hot water from the home. This method simply involves using thin water pipes, painted black, and running them through a 'greenhouse like' box that is exposed to the sun on the outside of the home. In warmer areas this can provide hot running water throughout the home for free.Solar energy isn't for everybody. Where you live will determine whether or not it is the right choice for you. If solar panels are not viable for you, or you are unsure if you are ready to take the plunge, you should still consider buying solar appliances when possible. There are any number of solar appliances available today including video cameras, watches, radios, fountains and much more. These all eliminate the need for batteries and/or wiring.