how to make solar home heating

Retired mechanic José Alano invented a simple and inexpensive energy-saving system, a solar water heater that benefits thousands of people. Here’s how …

José Alano is a model of creativity in solving environmental problems in Brazil. In 2002, the retired mechanic turned a bunch of plastic bottles and cardboard boxes into solar water heaters. Since then, thousands of people in southern Brazil have benefited from Alano’s invention, saving money while reducing waste.

The idea came from the lack of recycling collection services in his hometown of Tubarão. Refusing not to be able to recycle plastic bottles, cardboard or other waste, made him see the problem: a city full of waste.


Using their basic knowledge of solar water heating systems, he and his wife built an early version of 100 plastic bottles and 100 cartons of milk. “It worked really well and we disposed of our waste responsibly,” he says.

His initiative became well known in Brazil after winning an ecological award, offered by Superinteressante magazine for non-profit renewable projects. Since then, the retired mechanic has been busy with workshops and lectures at community centers and schools, particularly in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, where he lives.

This water heater can offer energy savings of up to 30%, but other than that, every recycled solar water heater built also means fewer plastic bottles and cans in landfills. Since Alano’s invention, Tubarão has benefited from the regular collection of recyclable waste, which unfortunately still does not happen in many Brazilian cities.

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