May is Home Improvement Month . . . for everyone

SolarenergyorgWhile we’re enjoying Home Improvement Month, let’s pause and reflect on those who don’t have the comforts of home that we have — like power and water — and reflect on some home-improvement initiatives that are making their lives a little easier.

The promise of solar power in underdeveloped countries is, in my opinion, extraordinary. Think about it: the poorest areas usually have the most sun, hot, hot, unrelenting sun. So why not harvest it?
PlaypumpBy making solar panels available to poor families, the whole issue of infrastructure is moot. No power plants necessary, no power lines needed. A solar panel on the roof can create power to heat water and cook food (no more scrounging for firewood for cooking), and maybe to run a radio or other appliances. Learn more at Solar Energy International.

Also improving lives: Play-Pumps, which look similar to the merry-go-rounds (or roundabouts) you find on playgrounds in the U.S. But in some 700 South African villages, Play-Pumps are more than fun for the kids. The rotation of the roundabout powers a pump that brings up to 300 gallons of water an hour from a well into a high storage tank. Call it kid power. And if you have a youngster in the house, you may know the true meaning of “renewable energy.” Advertising and health messages on the tanks pay the maintenance costs. First Lady Laura Bush praised them in a commencement speech last month at Pepperdine University. More info: PlayPumps International.

(Photos: Solar Energy International, Play Pumps International)