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The power the sun provides is clean, free, will never run low and can improve your home’s performance.
As energy prices continue to rise, solar energy is becoming increasingly attractive to homeowners, who
can expect to start seeing returns on a home solar energy system in as little as four years. Solar energy is
also desirable because:
It helps save the environment. Many homeowners in the U.S. depend on inefficient, non-renewable,
toxic forms of energy – oil, gas and coal – to power their homes. The use of these limited natural
resources releases pollutants such as heavy metals, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, which cause smog
and acid rain, as well as contribute to global warming. When you install a home solar energy system, you
reduce your dependence on these non-renewable resources.
It saves you money. Energy prices can be volatile due to energy markets; foreign instability; natural or
man-made disasters; or limited supply. Historically, rates go up at a rate of about six percent per year.
When you install a solar system, the sun helps you create your own source of electricity, thus reducing
your dependence on the power company and providing more stable energy prices.
You help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources. The U.S. provides about 40 percent of its
oil needs from North America and the rest from the Middle East, South America and Russia. If there’s
turmoil in a partnering country (or an oil spill) the can impact make a dent in your wallet. By creating
your own power, you help the U.S. achieve energy independence, reduce your reliance on local power
grids and will possibly have a way to power your home if there’s a natural disaster.
It increases the value of your home. A home solar energy system pays off in multiple ways. In addition
to reducing your power bills, a solar system can increase the value of your home by up to $5.50 per
watt. With a 3.1-kilowatt solar system, your home’s value has the potential to increase $17,000.
When considering ways to go green and save on your power bill, it’s wise to have a certified energy
auditor conduct a home performance test or home energy audit. This test will reveal inefficiencies
throughout your home and show where energy is leaking out. You may find that you can save money
with simple fixes such as sealing cracks or replacing the weather stripping on your windows. The auditor
conducting the home performance assessment can also answer your questions about alternative
sustainable energy sources available and which options would work well for your home.
Types of Home Solar Energy Systems
Solar panels: Solar electric panels (photovoltaics or PV) are glass and metal panels made of assembled
photovoltaic cells that collect the sun’s photons (light energy). Photons energize the electrons in the
semiconductors and create DC electricity. The array of panels, attached to your roof, is connected to an
inverter that converts the direct current (DC) that the photovoltaic cells create to the alternating current
(AC) that your home uses.
Solar hot water panels are also made of glass and aluminum but have a core of copper tubing (with fluid
inside) to collect heat.
Solar electric systems: When you have this type of system, your home gets its power from both solar
energy and your utility company. If your home uses up all the solar energy it produces during the month,
it will tap into your local power grid for energy. On the other hand, if you produce more energy than you
need, the power company will purchase the extra electricity from you, usually at a 1-for-1 rate.
Solar hot water systems: Also called a solar thermal system, a solar hot water system uses the sun’s
energy instead of gas to produce hot water. This type of hot water system uses solar panels and a
plumbing collector that circulates glycol in a closed-loop system. As the panels absorb the sun’s rays, the
glycol converts, preserves and circulates the heat. This system saves by pre-heating water for your water
heater, so it uses energy less often. Usually 60-70 percent of annual hot water energy can be conserved
A home solar energy system is a smart and logical investment in your home. Talk to a local solar system
provider to learn about the tax incentives you may receive and to find out whether your home is a good
candidate for this type of renewable energy.
Author Bio: Jonathan Cohen, the Founder and Principal at Imagine Energy
firm based in Portland, Oregon, contributed this post. Imagine Energy
provides complete energy solutions with in-house HVAC, Solar, Insulation,
Plumbing, and Electrical services.