One of the primary deterrents to solar energy installation are the solar power costs. Right now, for the average American home, it’s still more expensive to buy the equipment for a solar home energy system, than a traditional fossil fuel home energy system. Here are a few facts to consider, however, when looking at the “bigger picture” of solar energy installation:
· Using solar panels to capture and use the sun’s energy will improve your home value.
· Solar home energy systems pay for themselves in about half their lifetime (on average 30 years).
· You are installing a clean, non-polluting system that, since there are no moving parts to break or replace, will be either low maintenance or maintenance-free.
· If you generate more power than you need, you may be able to sell your excess energy to your local electric company.
· You may be eligible for government sponsored rebates and incentives.
If you’ve been keeping up with home building trends, you’ve undoubtedly noticed more and more home owners are interested in “going green,” resulting in a remarkable trend toward using as many renewable resources, including solar energy, for construction, as possible. Not only will this trend result in a rising value for “green” homes, it will also push costs for solar energy and other environmentally-friendly building supplies down.
If you’re convinced that solar energy is the way to go when building or remodeling your home, but just not sure if you can afford it…or are willing to pay the initial costs, consider doing the installation yourself. Getting solar panels installed by a contractor can be very expensive…look for bids that are easily 10 times what it would cost you to do it yourself. Solar energy isn’t terribly difficult…no rocket science involved. It’s basically a specially constructed solar panel (wooden box, photovoltaic [PV] cells, wire, soldering iron, connections, tempered or plexiglass and silicone sealant) to capture the sunlight’s energy on the PV cells that activate electrons. As the electrons move and are directed, they create the electrical chain that you then put through a charge controller in the form of a DC charge. You then capture the charge in either a deep cycle storage battery, or run it through an inverter to transform it into 110 volt AC current. You can find many DIY models on the Internet…some that offer free tips and tricks with instruction, and some that charge a small amount. One site that provides clear instruction at a very reasonable cost is Earth4Energy.
And, of course, you can cut your energy costs by taking advantage of passive solar energy. Explore the most advantageous way to use the sun’s energy to direct sunlight to your home’s windows, floors and walls, in order to distribute heat in the winter, and reject it in the summer. There are no panels, mechanical or electrical devices involved in passive solar energy, but there are five elements of passive solar design that are critical for success. They include a collector – glass area through which sunlight enters the building; an absorber – hard, dark surface where sunlight hits and is absorbed as heat; thermal mass – material below or behind the absorber; distribution – the way in which the solar heat circulates; and control -blinds, awnings, roof overhangs, and differential thermostats.
You can save money using solar energy, passive or active, or a combination of both. Your immediate, up-front cost may be greater… although you can reduce that cost significantly by doing your own installation…but when you consider the cost of energy usage over time (particularly with other energy costs constantly rising), solar energy will save you money on your utility bills while saving the planet from escalating environmental damage.
Rhone Resch, CEO and President of Solar Energy Industries Association, said, on Earth Day 2010: “Today we need to take action to accelerate the deployment of solar. If you are a homeowner or business owner, consider putting solar on your property or buying clean energy through your utility. And if you are a policymaker, consider incentives, like extending the federal Treasury Grant Program, that are working to stimulate more investment in solar.”
Whatever thing, large or small, that each one of us can do to support and encourage the development and usage of solar energy will make a difference for generations to come.
Timothy Peters is a renewable energy enthusiast and author. He lives in Spokane, WA and enjoys teaching others how to save money on their electricity bill and help the planet through renewable energy. If you want to find out more information on solar power costs, then check out his site at: www.HomeSolarPowerExplained.com
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