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[ Being the simple-minded person I am, I have never been able to figure out why green energy costs so much, well, green.  Seems like there should be a cheaper way to use solar power to heat our water and our homes.  I've often suspected that there are many companies tapping into the "green", "organic" and "environmentally friendly" movements just to make a few more bucks.  Turned out -- I suspect -- that I've been right.

On a corner in McPherson Square, home of the OccupyDC movement is a homemade solar powered heating unit that is heating up a four man tent.  I just had to stop the other morning and learn more about this.

There wasn't anyone hanging around the sustainability tent, but they had left a notebook of information that I leafed through.  The photographs showing the unit in various stages of construction was interesting and there was a parts list included.  Seems like the total cost of the parts was less than $50.00.

It's built from some scrap 6x8 lumber, a "recycled" window, a sheet of Styrofoam, a recovered space blanket, some abandoned dryer hose and about a hundred aluminum soft drink cans -- painted black.

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The contraption captures the sunlight which warms up the air inside the frame.  The law of thermodynamics forces the hot air through the dryer hose at the top where it's blown into the tent.  Then there's a hose that leads from the bottom of the tent back into the solar-powered-heating-thingy and the whole process is repeated.

I don't know about you, but it seems to me to be a pretty good demonstration of how cheap solar energy can be, once we get the greedy, candy-ass yuppies out of the way and let the unemployed, long-haired, drum playing hippies show them how to do it.

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Jerry Nelson is a nationally recognized photojournalist. His work has appeared in many national, regional and local publications including CNN, USAToday, Upsurge, Earthwalkers and Associated Content. Nelson travels the country seeking out the people, places and things that make America unique and great. Nelson currently is in Washington D.C. pointing his camera at OccupyDC and freelancing for The Washington Times the second largest paper in the nation's capital.

CLICK HERE to see more of Nelson's work or to hire him for a shoot.

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I am an American freelance writer and ghostwriter now living the expat life in Argentina. Never far from my coffee and Marlboros, I am always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Join the million-or-so who follow my life and (more...)

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Innovative Solar Power -- Free