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Found 30 results

  1. There is no question that the world is ready for solar energy. In the United States, the Office of Energy Efficiency estimates that the growth of major solar energy installations has grown by more than 1,700 percent since 2008. While most installations have been of the utility, industrial and commercial kinds, residential systems are expected to grow exponentially through the end of this decade. In 2017, electrical vehicle manufacturer Tesla announced its intention to start taking deposits on residential installations of an advanced solar roof panel system complete with transformers and batteries; this announcement has sparked considerable interest from homeowners who are now looking up at their roofs and wondering what they would need to do in order to get some panels installed. In essence, there are three important things for you to consider before weighing the possibility of going fully solar: Roof Inspection When was the last time you had your roof inspected by a professional company like Burke’s Roofing ? Unfortunately, many homeowners wait until they spot a leak or an ugly brown stain on their ceiling panels before they resolve to call technicians for roof repair services; this is about the only time an inspection is conducted, and on many occasions, the findings are not pleasant. A roof inspection is a must before installing heavy solar energy panels on top of your house; in fact, you may want to do this now before the next winter or rainy season so that you can budget for repairs accordingly. Ventilation Your current roof system has a particular ventilation arrangement that may not be fully compatible with the intended roof panel installation. The vents may need to be relocated and tested so that they preserve the level of energy efficiency your household requires. Roof Leaks In rainy climate regions such as South Florida, some homeowners will notice a roof leak during a heavy tropical storm or when a hurricane makes landfall. In many cases, the leak seems to be manageable because it is limited to a drip and does not seem to spread across the ceiling; in other words, these leaks are nothing that a pan or bucket will not solve, and they tend to not be an issue until the next hurricane or spectacular rainstorm arrives. The problem with this nonchalant approach is that it could be ignoring serious issues such as missing shingles or damaged flashing, which would certainly need to be repaired before solar panel installations. In the end, the state of your roof will determine whether you can really take advantage of solar energy production. Do not attempt to forego roof inspections and repairs before solar panels are installed.
  2. Solar energy has never been more popular, and in the United States alone, the number of solar installations is 17 times greater than it was less than 10 years ago. Still, the vast majority of solar installations are used to power homes and businesses or provide additional energy into the electricity grid. However, the fact is that solar power actually has a great number of uses—especially in times of an emergency or natural disaster. When disaster strikes, solar can quickly become your best friend by providing the following potentially life-saving benefits. Solar Provides Backup Power Whenever You Need It If you truly want to be prepared in case of a power outage, a solar backup generator is most definitely the way to go. When the local power grid goes down, you can switch over to your solar generator to ensure that you still have electricity when you need it. Although you may need to monitor your power usage, a solar generator like those offered by Renogy can still allow you to have lights, keep your food cold, etc. As long as the sun is shining, your solar generator will continue to produce power and thus ensure you won’t be near as affected by power outages. Helps You Stay Connected in the Event of an Emergency A solar generator also enables you to charge your phones, tablet and other handheld devices. There are also a number of smaller solar chargers that can be used for the same purpose. In this way, you can ensure that you are able to stay connected and can get up-to-date information about the emergency or disaster situation. Although your ability to make calls or get online will obviously be dictated by your local network, solar can still ensure that your devices remain charged and ready to use whenever you have a signal. Keeps You Prepared for Any Eventuality In the event of a hurricane, tornado or another major natural disaster, there is a high chance that the power could be out for days, weeks or even months. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to begin the cleanup process and start getting back to your normal life until electricity has been restored. This won’t be nearly as much of an issue for you if you are able to rely on solar to power your essentials. Whether it is used to keep food or life-saving medicines from spoiling or simply to ensure that you don’t have to eat by candlelight, solar allows you to be prepared for any long power outages or other disruptions to the electricity grid. Based on this evidence, it is obvious that solar energy can be a huge help during an emergency or disaster situation. Although solar won’t make it any easier to overcome the loss or devastation of a disaster, it can still ensure that you have access to electricity when you need it most. In this way, solar power really is an emergency essential.
  3. Going green has become increasingly popular in many families. If you’re building a new home, creating eco-friendly opportunities doesn’t have to wait until you’ve already moved in! There are several methods that will allow you to keep your building project more ecologically friendly, making your home green even before your move-in date. Think It All The Way Through In many cases, the biggest waste on construction projects occurs when new homeowners make substantial changes to their plans in the middle of the building process. Take the time to think through what you want before you get started and try to stick with it to avoid excess material waste. Use The Right Materials There are several recycled materials available that will allow you to complete your home’s construction without tapping as many natural resources. Make sure that you’re using the right kind of lumber to decrease your environmental impact. Reclaimed wood is a great choice, as is wood sourced from managed forests. Material Disposal Using an eco-friendly disposal service like Ware Disposal will allow you to recycle materials that can be recycled safely. Not all waste is eligible, but most green disposal companies will make sure those materials are taken care of separately. To go even further, see if there are building materials you can use that are made from recycled or repurposed waste. Save Water Toilets that use less water to flush waste are becoming increasingly popular in many areas, as are shower heads and faucets that regulate water usage. Energy-saving appliances may also include information about how much water they’re able to save, so research your dishwasher and washing machine carefully before making a choice. Go Solar Solar panels are a great investment for your new home that will significantly reduce your reliance on energy providers. Take a look at how solar power can transform your home. Even if you can’t remain off the energy grid entirely, you may be able to significantly reduce your energy usage. Even better, solar panels will pay for themselves over time! Get The Best Roof Roofing materials can have a huge impact on your overall energy usage. Choose materials that are insulating, to keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer, and that won’t transfer heat into your home during the winter. Note Small Details Programmable thermostats are transforming energy usage in many homes. You’ll also find that your windows can have a substantial impact on the amount of energy used to heat or cool your home. Paying attention to these little details when you’re building your house will make a big difference in the energy your home uses long-term. As you build your home, you’re focusing heavily on staying green and being eco-friendly. By utilizing these strategies, you’ll find that your new home can be green even before it’s completed--and that means you’ll reduce your environmental impact while enjoying everything that your new home can offer.
  4. Improving your home’s energy efficiency not only saves you money, it increases your comfort year-round. These five tips offer durable ways to lower the amount of energy it takes to cool and heat it. Some are do-it-yourself projects, while others require the help of a specialized contractor. Energy Recovery Ventilator These affordable HVAC appliances exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air without increasing energy costs. The energy recovery ventilator (ERV) traps the energy in the outgoing air and puts it into the incoming air. ERVs also remove humidity from the incoming air, which lightens the cooling load in the summer. Window Sealing Kits Unless you have thermal or Energy Star windows, you could be losing a good deal of heat to the outdoors during the winter. Clear plastic window sealing kits are available from home centers and online stores. They don’t interfere with the view and block air leaks and thermal transfer to the outdoors. Air Leaks and Ice Dams The air leaks from the ceilings into the attic reduce energy efficiency, and for the most part, they’re easy to seal with caulk and expanding foam. Besides the heated air that escapes into the attic into the winter, air leaks from the ceilings cause ice dams in the winter. Once you’ve sealed the air leakage, check over the integrity of the gutters. If they’re clogged or broken, rain or snowmelt won’t be able to drain quickly, which could also trigger ice dams. Companies like Innovations Siding & Windows can inspect your gutters and siding to make sure your home will withstand the damage that moisture causes to the attic or the envelope. Shade Screens Popular in the southern states for their ability to block solar heat on south- and west-facing windows, shade screens are effective in any climate. Screening materials are available online or at home centers. Some eliminate 90 percent of the heat entering through the glass. They don’t block the view and most homeowners take them down in the fall to take advantage of solar passive heating. Solar Cooking Cooking outdoors with a solar cooker on a hot sunny day requires no fuel. Solar cooking is an inexpensive and effective way to harness the power of the sun to cut energy consumption and produce delicious food. Bottom Line These suggestions will help you deal with the climate unique to this area. They won’t break the bank, and even if you need an expert, are easy to execute and will last for years.
  5. While great strides have been made to further geothermal, wind, and other forms of clean energy, these methods lack the ease and simplicity of harnessing solar energy. This is clearly demonstrated by the growing popularity of solar panel roofing with homeowners. Tax Credits and Assistance Federal and state authorities offer a tax incentives to homeowners who adopt solar panels. The federal government offers an investment tax credit of up to 30 percent, which helps defer the cost of having panels installed. Some states offer additional credits and incentives. For example, in 2016, Washington D.C. established new laws which not only reward early adopters, but also set aside funds to assist lower income families with the cost of installation. Quick Return on Investment Solar panels have never been cheaper to install, and you can begin earning back the cost of installation almost immediately thanks to net metering and solar renewable energy credits (SRECs). You can sell your earned SRECs right to the utility provider, as they pay homeowners who produce clean energy. This essentially translates into extra income, which is further supported by net metering, a separate system of credits that subtract cost directly from your power bill. Increased Property Value Studies have firmly established that owning solar panel roofing is a net gain for homeowners. The Federal Housing Administration has established new guidelines which require solar energy systems to be included when appraising the value of a property, so having solar panel system can significantly raise your home's appraisal value. Solar paneling is a sound property investment that can dramatically raise the resale value of your home. While not all properties are suitable candidates for installation, a roofing company like Acoma Roofing, Inc. can quickly determine if your home has the necessary structural design to support paneling. Reduced Energy Bills Homes with solar panel roofing have shown energy bill reductions as much as 30 percent, and even higher for homes that integrate larger systems. The average lifespan of a solar energy system is 25 to 30 years, so when factored over that period of time, this amounts to massive savings on electricity. The last decade saw a 5 percent increase in electricity costs, while solar systems went down about 70 percent over the same ten year period. The upward trend in electricity cost will continue, but investing in a solar system now will insulate you from the inflating prices. Clean and Renewable All financial considerations aside, solar paneling is a simple and accessible way to lower your carbon footprint and improve the environment. Furthermore, since the panels can be installed on your roof, no clearing land for installation is necessary, further supporting their value to the environment. Unlike traditional fuels, solar panels release zero harmful emissions. Beyond basic maintenance, solar panels are long lasting, making them a long-term, renewable energy solution. The Future Between rebates, credit programs, and other financial incentives, solar panel roofing is a safe and affordable way to both add value to your home and lower your energy costs. More importantly, they are a simple way to invest in the health of the environment, thereby making our collective future a little brighter.
  6. Transitioning your home's electrical system to include solar power can provide a huge number of financial and environmental benefits. Installing a solar power generating system on your roof or in your yard has the potential to greatly reduce your electricity bill while also reducing your carbon footprint and helping to protect the planet. In this way, going green with solar power is truly a great thing to do. Unfortunately, making the transition isn't always as simple or straightforward as it seems. Despite the price of solar systems and installation continuing to drop to new record lows, the fact is that solar still remains prohibitively expensive for many homeowners. As well, the overall success of your solar system depends in large part on how and where it's installed and the quality of your equipment. For these reasons, it is essential that you pay attention to the following tips in order to help you overcome any potential obstacles and hopefully simplify your transition to solar. Always Have a Solar Feasibility Study Performed Not all homes are suitable for solar power and even if your home is suitable, you'll still need to know where the best spot for the panels is, how many solar panels you'll need and how much energy you can expect the system to produce. A solar feasibility study helps you answer all of these questions in order to ensure that you get the best possible system for your home and your energy needs. Most reputable solar installation companies will offer this type of study for free. In this way, you'll not only be able to ensure that you get the best possible system, but you'll also be able to compare the prices, products, and services offered by each company to find the best possible deal. Purchase Everything Up-Front When deciding to go solar, you will typically have the option to purchase all of your own equipment up front, lease the equipment from a solar company or sign a Power Purchasing Agreement with your power company, in which case they supply and own all of the equipment. Although purchasing your own equipment requires a much larger initial investment, it is well worth it since your investment will provide tangible goods. Otherwise, you'll end up paying for something that someone else still technically owns. You will generally be able to qualify for a variety of local, state and federal rebates and tax incentives to help offset the initial costs. However, if you're still unable to afford what it costs, it's well worth it to try to get a loan to cover your solar transition in order to help you meet your energy goals. If timing is the only thing holding you back, searching regionally for something like “Texas payday loan” can help you find short term lenders you can use, so long as you’re prepared to pay them back ASAP. The energy saving benefits of your solar system should help to offset any interest payments you make on the loan. Buying your solar equipment out right also gives you the ability to sell your solar panels or other equipment should you ever decide to upgrade, and the solar system obviously boosts your home's total value. All of this makes a loan more than worth it in the end. Make Any Necessary Repairs or Upgrades Ahead of Time In addition to the solar feasibility study, you'll want to make sure to have your roof inspected to ensure it can fully support the solar panels. If the inspection discovers any leaks, structural damage or other issues, it is essential that you have them fixed prior to the solar installation. Similarly, if your roof is only a year or two away from needing to be replaced, you should definitely consider having it done now. Otherwise, you risk having to have the solar system removed to fix the damage and then starting all over. Forget about the DIY Route Although you can read numerous articles online about DIY solar, the truth is that installing a solar system is something that's best left to the professionals. The complicated electrical work required is not only incredibly dangerous for anyone other than a certified electrician, but any wiring issues also have the potential to destroy your solar system or potentially even burn down your home. At the very least, wiring issues can harm the efficiency of your solar panels. The actual installation of the solar panels should also be left to a trained professional since the exact position, angle and orientation will directly influence how much energy they can create. Therefore, if you want your solar system to be safe and work properly, it is imperative that you have it professionally installed. Solar power is now more accessible than ever, and there truly has never been a better time to make the transition to clean, green, renewable solar energy. However, a poorly designed or improperly installed solar system will still be a huge waste of money. In this sense, it is essential that you get the expert advice and financial assistance you need to ensure your transition to solar is a success.
  7. Generating energy to power our homes and businesses, especially in the United States, is an expensive task, both economically and environmentally. The best way to produce that power is the topic of many research studies that seek to keep the process of energy production as efficient as possible. Solar power is quickly becoming a more reliable, affordable, and cleaner way to power your home. The Old Way of Generating Power Most energy produced in the US today is produced by coal- or natural gas-powered plants. These are fossil fuels, which emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned. This is the number one cause of climate change. Producing energy produced by fossil fuels is a dying industry. Jobs in this industry are historically some of the most dangerous jobs you can have. Each year it employs fewer and fewer people. The Greener Cleaner Way to Power Your Home Solar energy is at the beginning of a revolution. Just as coal powered the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th Centuries, solar along with other renewable sources will power the 21st Century. The price of making and installing solar panels drops 20% every time the world capacity for solar power doubles. This means that each year, more and more people can afford to install solar panels on their homes and end up selling energy back to the grid. Companies like Renogy are making solar power accessible and portable for more and more people all the time. The true cost to the environment of using solar power is more than you might think. Sure, when the panels are installed and energy is being produced, there is no carbon by-product. Creating the panels, transporting them, and installing them does generate carbon. Solar panels are made of silicone which has a high melting temperature. The power used to create the panels themselves immediately puts the solar panel into a "carbon debt". Presently, when a new solar panel is produced, it pays off its carbon debt in two years, then continues to produce completely clean energy for decades to come. The current manufacturer's warranty on solar panels is 25 years. After that time, the panels may produce energy less efficiently. Powering your home with solar energy is a responsible choice for the planet. It can also mean real savings on your utility bills. If you are thinking about making a difference, you should think again about solar.
  8. Solar energy has gained incredible momentum in the last few years. More homeowners and businesses than ever before are using solar energy to lower their electric bills and contribute to environmentally friendly practices. There are many advantages to going solar for middle-class homeowners, and the government has an interest in developing a stronger solar economy. Massive Decreases in Solar Prices When residential solar panels were first introduced to the market, they were, like most new technologies, prohibitively expensive. It could cost over $70.00 per watt to install a solar system. Only very wealthy homeowners could afford such a system, and only a small segment of the most environmentally conscious would be likely to invest. Today, the price of a solar system hovers closer to 60 cents per watt. This massive price decrease makes residential solar affordable to a broader range of consumers, especially homeowners in the middle class. While many government incentives and subsidies exist to lower the cost of solar further, the government is obviously hoping to phase out these expenses. Subsidies are designed to stimulate a new industry. The more people who install panels and stimulate the production of solar energy, the cheaper it will become and the less reliant people will be on government assistance. Solar is Good for the Economy States that make solar energy attractive have reaped significant economic benefits. These include the creation of new jobs and small businesses as well as new manufacturing and production. The growth of solar as a widespread industry is excellent from a government standpoint because it provides more tax revenue, a healthier job market and local economy and possibly less reliance on government assistance. Solar energy also represents an important shift away from imports. Renewable energy is one commodity that is always domestically produced. This allows money spent on energy to remain in the local economy or at least in America. This decreases reliance on foreign sources of energy, especially oil. Less Strain on Municipalities Residential solar creates the possibility that each home is like a miniature power plant. The vast majority of residential solar systems, such as those with Blue Sky Solar Energy, are tied into the energy grid. This benefits the homeowner because they have a reliable source of energy and don’t have to worry about expensive backup or off-grid battery systems. This also benefits everyone connected to the energy grid. More solar means lower demands on the centralized power infrastructure, meaning less operating costs for primary utilities and a more stable power grid in general. Power companies commonly over produce so they can meet peak energy demands. This expense is then wasted during off-peak times. A large-scale development of residential solar would lower the peak demand on the power company and reduce that waste and expense. Clean Energy Policies Many states are adopting stricter clean air and water policies and goals. Investment in clean energy is often a critical part of reaching these environmental goals. Solar power may reduce the need for dirtier sources of electricity. Increased adoption of solar energy may also have an environmental ripple effect for homeowners who adopt it. A strong tie-in is the link between home solar and electric vehicles. When a homeowner is producing their own electricity at home, they may be more likely to purchase an electric vehicle to go along with it. There are many widespread benefits to solar systems for homes and businesses. The government has a vested public interest in increasing the adopting of this technology. Homeowners can still act to take advantage of price decreases and incentives being offered.
  9. Making your business more environmentally friendly has the potential to help lower operating costs over the long term, while also ensuring that you and your employees are doing your part in order to protect the planet for future generations. However, going green can also benefit your business in another major way by allowing you to attract new environmentally-conscious customers. Unfortunately, many of the most common green business practices take place behind the scenes—meaning there is no way that your customers will know about all that you're doing. For this reason, you may want to consider using the four following methods, which will help your business appear as green as it actually is. Restrooms Using biodegradable green cleaning products is a simple way to reduce your company's environmental impact, as soaps and other cleaning products are a major source of water pollution and contaminants. In this sense, you should really attempt to use green products wherever possible. However, one area where this is especially true is in any restrooms your customers may use. Installing low-flow toilets and water-saving faucets is a good start, but you'll also want to make sure that you provide biodegradable hand soap and only use post-consumer recycled toilet paper to show customers proof that you take environmental responsibility seriously. Landscaping Exterior landscaping can be a huge waste of water. Luckily, it isn't all that difficult to make your exterior landscaping more environmentally friendly. One option is to landscape using only native plants. As well, you may want to consider installing a system that allows you to take advantage of rainwater in order to irrigate your landscaping. Not only are your customers sure to notice, but installing this type of system may also allow you to qualify for special rebates and tax credits. Vertical Garden Although it may not do much to improve your business' sustainability, installing a vertical garden in your lobby or office will go a long way towards improving the overall appearance of your location. Not only that, but all those plants will continuously produce oxygen, which will help to improve indoor air quality and make your business a more pleasant place to be. These can be tricky to install, though, so consult with a company like Advance Plant Services if you need help. Solar Solar panels are a sure sign that a business is attempting to be more environmentally conscious. Unfortunately, a full solar-power system is still beyond the financial reach of most companies. Nonetheless, even just installing a few solar panels and a solar-power backup generator can easily make your company appear greener, while also ensuring that you'll be protected in case of a power outage. In this day and age, going green is one of the best things a company can do—both in terms of its bottom line and for attracting new customers. Still, it is important that your customers actually know about your new green practices, which is why it’s a good idea to try to incorporate as many of the above ideas into your business as possible.
  10. Not only can solar panels increase the value of your home, but they might also reduce your electric bills by hundreds of dollars a year. Before having the solar panels installed, you must take a few steps to protect your home and the panels themselves. Here are some tips you can use to make sure that your next solar power project goes off without a hitch. Carefully Inspect the Roof You must have your roof repairs completed well before your solar array is installed. Issues such as a few missing tiles or cracked drip edges might not seem important, but they could result in much worse damage if they aren’t taken care of immediately. You also need to inspect the inside of your attic for any signs of damage like mold in the insulation, wet spots on the joists, or sagging roof panels. Consider Replacing Your Roof The solar panel contractors can do everything in their power to protect your home, but they will still be dragging heavy equipment and materials across your roof. If your roof happens to be more than 15 years old, then you might want to consider replacing it entirely before the solar panels are installed. Once the panels are installed, it will be completely impractical to replace the roof for the next five or 10 years. Determine the Placement of the Panels Solar contractors have many tools at their disposal to determine where the panels should be placed. As a general rule, south-facing roofs tend to receive the best sunlight and generate the most energy. Roofs that face east and west can produce energy, but placing panels in those areas might not be as efficient. Luckily, the cost of solar panels has dropped in the last few years, and many people still install arrays in areas that don’t receive quite as much direct sunlight. Remove Obstacles Anything that blocks sunlight from hitting the panels will have a major impact on the efficiency of the system. The most common obstacles are chimney stacks and tree branches, but you will also need to consider nearby buildings. Those who have satellite dishes or antennas might need to move those devices to a different position to make room for the panels. Schedule a Final Inspection Even if you know quite a bit about roofs, you must work with a certified roofing contractor before having the panels installed. These specialists will make sure that your roof is safe and adheres to all local codes and regulations. Depending on the age of your roof, the contractor might also suggest placing additional supports under the panels themselves. The final step in this process is to contact a local solar company to discuss your options. This technology is more affordable than ever, and many companies offer unique deals such as rental options and lease-to-own programs
  11. Reducing electricity usage is not only good for the environment, but it is also good for your wallet. You can cut down on power use at home without going through any major lifestyle changes. Believe it or not, it is still possible to enjoy the comforts of a dishwasher and good lighting while paying less for utilities. Try these four tips for saving power and lowering monthly bills. Upgrade to Efficient Light Bulbs If you still use incandescent light bulbs, make the switch to LED light bulbs. The cost of LED light bulbs has significantly decreased over the past couple of years. LED bulbs emit an extremely minimal amount of heat and convert almost all of their electricity to light. Traditional incandescent bulbs waste most of the electricity, turning it into heat instead of light. LED bulbs will help to keep your home cooler in the summer since they emit less heat. Install Electrical Transfer Switches To save power and lower your electricity bill, install electrical transfer switches. These devices allow you to connect your home to an alternate source of power. Some companies, like Enercon Engineering Inc., know that they could be also used in conjunction with a solar panel array. They could also be used with a wind turbine or another renewable energy source too. You could use an electrical transfer switch with a backup generator too. Power-down Electronics Anything that is plugged in and has an indicator light or digital clock uses power. Some items will draw power while plugged in even if they do not have any lights. This is often referred to as "ghosting." Be sure to power down or completely unplug devices such as computer monitors, televisions, and DVD players when you are not using them. Skip the Drying Cycle Skip the hot dry cycle when using the dishwasher. Just opening the door of the dishwasher after the wash cycle is done will allow the dishes to quickly dry, with no power required. Consider reducing the amount of times you use your clothes dryer. Hang shirts and pants on a clothes rack or clothesline. Save the dryer for delicate items and linens that need the hot air for sanitary purposes. Each of these tips does not require much time or effort to employ. You could make one change at a time to get used to the idea of saving power and add in more tips as each one becomes a habit. After you do all four of these things, you can keep more of your hard-earned money instead of sending it to utility companies.
  12. More than 1 million U.S. homes now sport solar panels on the roof. That number is expected to double in the next two years as the cost of solar continues to decline and solar awareness continues to rise. While making the shift to solar is good for the environment, that’s not the only reason to invest in solar technology. Here are just a few of the many benefits homeowners can realize by going solar. 5 Reasons So Many Homeowners Are Going Solar 1. Solar is a good investment. While the exact ROI for solar varies according to location and other factors, research indicates that in most states it makes financial sense to go solar. Specifically, solar brings a better return than a five-year CD in 86 percent of states. If you live in one of the top 13 states for solar, you’ll actually do better with your solar panels than you would by investing in the S&P 500. 2. Solar is reliable. With any technology comes the potential for failure, but solar bucks the trend by being one of the least likely of your home’s systems to break down. While solar panels are typically warranted for 25 years, 90 percent of them last 30 years or longer. One report showed that many 40-year-old panels are still generating power at 80 percent of their efficiency. In addition, a residential solar system typically has no moving parts, and almost never needs repair. 3. Solar is security. Concerned about power grid security, future energy price hikes, and/or the escalating effects of global climate change on the weather? Installing a solar system with battery backup is an excellent way to ensure that you will always have the power you need at a price you can afford. 4. Solar protects our planet. Sunshine is a clean, renewable energy source that does not contribute to global climate change. While all manufacture has an impact on the environment, solar panels create far more energy in their lifetime than is consumed by making them. In fact, an average 4 KW solar power system offsets nearly 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in its first 25 years. It would take planting more than 2,000 trees to equal that amount of carbon offset. 5. Solar is hot — and that’s cool. Who doesn’t like to be the cool kid on the block? Solar is an undeniably hot and trendy technology, so why not add a system to your roof and enjoy witnessing the “panel envy” of your neighbors and friends? How to Go Solar at Home According to Google’s Project Sunroof, nearly four out of five U.S. homes have enough unshaded area to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. So when you’re ready for a larger investment in your home (similar to what you would pay for a kitchen remodel or home addition), chances are good that solar will pay off for you. That said, PV panels aren’t the only way to go solar in your home. Here are more ideas, at a variety of price points for any budget: • Solar water heater — A typical solar water heating system saves 50-80 percent on monthly water heating costs, even in a cloudy climate. • Solar landscape lighting — Solar outdoor lighting doesn’t just save electricity. It’s also safer and reduces maintenance because you won’t have to run power lines outside. • Solar chargers — A solar phone charger lets you charge your phone from anywhere, even on a hiking trip or in a boat! • Solar Christmas lights — Solar LED holiday lights are convenient to set up, and can save you up to $10 for every 300 hours they’re lit. These are just a few of the many benefits you can realize by going solar at home. Check out this infographic to discover even more compelling reasons why so many Americans these days are choosing to add solar to their homes. Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, one of the largest residential solar energy companies in the mid-Atlantic region. It is committed to providing homeowners with high-quality, American-made solar panels and solar energy products.
  13. Summer is coming and the sun is shining. But the sun serves as more than just a backdrop for long summer days and vacation memories. Those same solar rays that illuminate your days at the beach and your backyard picnics can also serve to provide energy to your house. Listed below are five ways in which switching to solar energy benefits your lifestyle and your bank account. Energy Savings One of the greatest befits of going solar is the amount of savings incurred on monthly electricity bills. Although savings rates vary by location, most homeowners can see a savings of at least 40% or more on their monthly statements. This savings calculator gives a good estimation of potential savings by city: https://www.energysage.com/solar/calculator. Improve Property Value Solar panels improve not only a home’s utility bill, but also its property value. According to a study by the Lawrence Berkley National Lab, homes with solar panels generally sell at a greater price than those without. Companies like ML Solar have the ability to create personalized design plans to maximize the potential property value increase of each individual home according to size and location. Tax Incentives Home owners who install solar panels are entitled to a federal tax credit under the law. Currently, The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) offers a 30 percent federal tax credit applied against the tax liability of a residential (Section 25D) property. These savings can be converted into other home improvement projects or applied to a perfect summer vacation. Protect Your Roof Solar panels protect your roof by adding a second layer of protection against the elements. Because the panels are slightly raised, wind and rain help to rid the roof of debris without causing damaging. Installing panels increases the overall life of your roof. Protect the Environment Perhaps the most important aspect of taking your home solar is the fact that you will reduce your carbon footprint. Solar homes protect the environment by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and combating greenhouse gas emissions. Solar energy reduces the toxins that pollute our air and water such as carbon and nitrogen dioxides as well as mercury and particulate dust. Upgrading your home to solar energy is an investment in both your home and your community. With more confidence in your home, and more money in your pocket, you’ll have the ability to increase your enjoyment of your home both this summer as well as the many summers to come.
  14. An increasing number of homeowners are turning to solar power to save on their energy costs and to make less of an impact on the environment. Many times, solar panels can generate enough energy to power as much as 50 percent of the average home’s energy leading to significant savings on electric. Solar power installation companies also often state that adding solar power to your home increases its resale value. In actuality, solar panels can complicate your home sale or purchase. Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value? Although solar companies will insist that solar power increases the value of your home, this is not a guarantee. There are many factors that go into how solar panels affect your home’s value including: The part of the country you live in Whether you leased or purchased the panels The type of home How much energy costs are reduced by the panels The starting value of your home is also a factor as higher-priced homes tend to see more value when they have solar panels installed than lower-priced homes. Lower Energy Costs and Damage to Environment There is no doubt that solar has significant benefits that can be an advantage when you try to sell your home. A typical solar panel can produce a significant amount of energy which help you save money on energy. For a potential buyer, this will be attractive as there are very few people who would not want to lower energy costs. Buyers who are conscious of their carbon footprint will also see benefits to a home with solar panels as solar energy has less impact on the environment than other forms of energy. Leasing vs. Buying Solar installations can be very expensive, ranging from $15,000 to $20,000. Very few homeowners have that much expendable income to add solar power to their home. Solar companies now offer leasing options. You sign an agreement that you will pay a flat monthly fee for the panels for the next 15 to 30 years. Leasing is attractive to many homeowners who want to switch to solar, but it can be a deterrent to buyers who aren’t interested in an additional monthly payment. In addition, some companies will not permit transfer of the lease to a new buyer, requiring the original homeowner to pay the balance on the lease should they sell the home. Housing Market The housing market also has an impact on the value of your home when it comes to solar panels. It must be mentioned that appraisers are not permitted to add value to a home because solar panels are installed because they are not a permanently installed in the structure. If you live in an area of the country with strong environmentally-friendly populations, solar power on a home may be well-received. In other areas of the country, there is less of a focus on the environment and solar panels may actually be a deterrent. It is important to know that the cost of your solar panels cannot simply be added to the price of your home when you sell it. Before installing solar panels on your home, talk to a real estate agent to find out how they will impact your potential ability to sell your home in your housing market. If you are considering the purchase of a home with panels, a real estate agent can explain the advantages and disadvantages of the system that the homeowner has installed.
  15. Solar power is the fastest-growing renewable energy source in the U.S., increasing more than 23 times in the last eight years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. As demand has grown and the technology has improved, the price of solar power has fallen. Are you uncertain about how solar power works? Here's a quick guide to the basics. Solar Panels When sunlight hits certain materials known as semiconductors, the materials convert the light energy to an electrical current. Solar panels that use this technology are photovoltaic (PV) panels. Within the panel are cells containing crystals. Most residential systems contain silicon crystals, like the silicon chips in a computer. Each cell produces only a small amount of power, but they're connected in series which collect their output. The cells are sandwiched between protective layers of glass or plastic. Panels are built to withstand hail, wind, and lightning strikes. Several panels together make an array. Because the system is modular, it can be designed to meet any electrical load. Mounting Structures Most residential solar systems are mounted on a south-facing roof. Panels can also be placed on a rack set on the ground. The panels are angled for maximum sun exposure at that latitude. Tracker systems follow the sun across the sky but are more expensive and need more maintenance. Inverter PV panels produce direct current. An inverter converts DC current to the AC current needed for household appliances. The inverter has a display showing how much power the array is producing. Some inverters can be monitored remotely via the Internet. Electrical Meter The meter connects the PV system to the local electrical grid. If the system is producing more power than the house needs, the meter will run backward. At night or when the panel isn't in service, the meter will show normal electrical demand. Because the house is drawing at least part of its electricity from the panels, homeowners can see significant savings on their utility bills. They will still have to pay a monthly connection fee to the utility. If the power goes out, most solar systems will shut down even if the sun is shining. This is to protect line workers. Storage The sun doesn't always shine. Battery systems can save electricity for use at night or in bad weather, and can be put on systems on- and off-grid. Lead-acid batteries are the most common. Lithium-ion batteries have recently come on the market. Storage systems can help utilities reduce their peak demand since the house will draw from its batteries before it needs power from the grid. Site PV panels will produce some electricity even in low light, but they need full sun for best performance. The ideal solar energy site has full exposure to the south, east, and west. Large trees, buildings, or hillsides that shade the site may make it unsuitable for a solar installation. Life Expectancy Solar panels are designed to last at least 25 years. They gradually lose efficiency, but should still be generating more than 80 percent of their original output at that point. Inverters need to be replaced more often. Installation More often than not, professional services and electricians are called to install solar panels and integrate them into electrical systems. While this is the safest option, it’s not impossible to set up without help. For a DIY installation, most will find parts and pieces from hardware stores or specialty electrical suppliers like Enercon Engineering Inc that professionals frequent for solar installations. Depending on local regulations, solar systems may need permits and have zoning restrictions. Some utilities limit how much solar power they'll accept from customers. They also vary in how large a credit they give customers for the solar power they produce. Depending on the state, solar systems may qualify for tax and other incentives. Check with your utility and your state's energy department.
  16. If you are looking to save money by generating your own power at home, solar is the way to go. To completely wipe out your utility bills, you have to get a system that is big enough to generate all the power that you need. Once you have your materials, you can maximize energy production by putting them in the right places and keeping them maintained. Calculate Your Needs Before You Buy Before you shop for solar panels, you should know how much electricity your home needs. You can figure this out by looking at your utility bills to see how many kilowatt-hours you used. To account for seasonal energy demand and consumption trends, you should look at statements from the past year. Once you know how much energy you use, you can figure out how big your solar power system needs to be. Panels almost never produce their maximum rated power. You have to buy more kilowatts than you use to account for the amount of sunlight your location receives. The U.S. Department of Energy has some useful equations and maps that will help you calculate how many kilowatts you really need to meet your energy needs. Make sure you explore all of your options by checking out inventory from suppliers like ML Solar and any other place so you can get the best price. Put Your Panels in the Right Place Even if you buy enough solar panels, they won't work too well if you install them in the wrong position. They obviously need to go in a sunny spot, but you should understand a few other positioning factors that will affect your power system's performance. In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is on the southern horizon, so south-facing panels get the strongest sunlight. If this is not an option on your property, west is the next best choice. This is because homeowners tend to use the most electricity in the late afternoon, especially during the summer air conditioning season. Your panels also need to be placed at an angle in order to receive the most direct sunlight. The size of this tilt depends on your location and the time of year. You can use this calculator to determine the proper angle for your setup. It is best to buy some adjustable racks to properly tilt your panels toward the sun's rays as the seasons change. They will pay for themselves with the extra power you will produce. Keep Your Panels Working Well Solar power systems are very low maintenance, but there are a few things you need to do to ensure a continuous supply of power. Most of the work involves cleaning the panel surfaces to remove the grime that blocks sunlight. Washing dust and bird droppings off your system is very similar to washing a car, but you should use a special kit that is designed for cleaning solar panels. Your system won't produce a lot of power if it is blocked by leaves in the fall and snow in the winter. Make sure you clear them off whenever you rake your lawn and shovel your driveway. If there are any trees near your solar array, you also may need to trim the branches whenever they grow big enough to cast shade over your panels. A solar power system will produce all the electricity that you need with the right research, setup, and maintenance. When you keep the right sized system working efficiently in the right place, you can say goodbye to all those high energy bills.
  17. Going completely green is a feat that few people can actually accomplish - especially those with busy lives and/ or families. But there are always smaller steps that anyone can take to live a greener lifestyle. While you may not be ready to live in a 300 square foot tiny home, there are a number of relatively simple and steps you can take to leave a lower carbon footprint - and sometimes even save some money in the process. Here are 4 green home improvements you can do yourself. Composting Landfills in North America are filling up and closing down. Nearly 1/3 of all landfill waste is composed of compostable materials. Composting allows you to create a thick, nutrient-rich humus for your lawn and garden while diverting as much as 30% of household waste. Not only does composting offer a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, but microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil and ward off plant disease. Lay Synthetic Grass With water prices skyrocketing, not only will this upgrade help you go green, it will save you a lot of green - and manpower. Eco-friendly synthetic grass requires no water, no mowing and stays green for years. No more mowing the lawn every week in the summer or having to pay someone else to do it. With synthetic grass, you can use your water and your compost on a beautiful garden instead of your lawn. Install Solar Panels Solar panel systems can be purchased for as little as a few thousand dollars but will save you significantly on your monthly energy bill. For around $10,000, you can purchase a system that could allow you to go off-grid entirely. If you can’t go for 10k, solar power companies like Renogy usually have a wide range of solar kits at varying prices and sizes to fit any budget. Today's solar energy panels are easy to install and can be up and running in an hour or less. Upgrade your thermostat Not only are today's thermostats more intuitive, they are also far more sensitive to air temperatures. A decade ago, thermostats would detect when the air temperature rose or dropped about 8 degrees above or below where the temperature was set at to heat or cool the house about 8 - 10 degrees above or below the set temperature. This meant people regularly turned their heat up to high to stay warm or the air too low to stay cool. Today's thermostats are capable of regulating heating and cooling systems to stay constantly within a few degrees, so you can set your temp where you are comfortable and keep it there. Going green doesn't have to cost a fortune, nor does it have to be a significant hassle. In fact, some eco-friendly products are actually superior to their more harmful counterparts. Where green products were once generally more expensive than the more harmful products, now green solutions will often save you green.
  18. In our modern day and age, people are more and more concerned about preserving the environment, and rightly so. There are plenty of scientific studies that suggest the planet is facing environmental challenges the likes of which it has never faced before. It has gotten to the point that going green is no longer seen as making a personal statement. It is now more about simply being a responsible person. Luckily, with the advance of technology, it has never been easier to be an environmentally friendly home owner. Solar Energy Solar panel technology has been around for quite some time now. It has never been more affordable than it is now, however. The benefits are pretty obvious to see. By switching out your power source from public energy plants which use up natural resources such as coal and oil, you substantially reduce your carbon footprint. Solar energy is not only incredibly easy to obtain, but it is also very cost effective in the long run. After all, the sun is free to use. So while the initial cost of solar panels can be scary for a lot of people, be assured that they will more than pay themselves off in due time. Of course, you don't have to go all-in on solar energy if don't want to or can't afford to. You may not be able to afford enough panels to power the whole home at first. If this is the case then you can still use solar panels to power parts of your house, while relying on conventional power for the rest of the spaces. It is still better than obtaining all of your energy the conventional way and can be upgraded when you have the ability. Water Efficient Plumbing I'm sure that you have seen the water efficient bathroom appliances when you go out to restaurants and other such public places. While the businesses generally say that they installed these appliances in order to be environmentally conscientious, we all know that all they really care about is the bottom line. Yet they still installed them. This should be taken as a cue that water efficient bathrooms are both cheaper and good for the environment. Nature-Friendly Gardens This one really only applies to people with yards, but since that represents a lot of people it is important to mention. Basically, fill up your yard with local plants instead of the standard (water depleting) grass. Not only is it environmentally friendly because you are using native plants that enrich the environment, but it also provides the house with unique curb appeal that everyone will appreciate. So the point is that making your house a little more eco-friendly is far from difficult. In fact, it has never been easier. If you are building your home, companies like Fischer Homes can often construct the home to work well with these green initiatives. So if you haven't already, consider making a few tweaks to your house in order to ensure that you are doing your part to preserve our environment.
  19. Going green can seem a bit daunting, especially if you don’t know how to apply these principles at home. At first, it might seem like everything is trying to destroy the planet. However, these four tips will help you make the difference that you’re looking to make right from your own home. Grill One appliance that may use propane or other forms of energy is the grill, but that no longer has to be the case. It might be a good idea to consider a solar-powered grill that will not use up electricity or force you to purchase propane. These grills can fry, bake, boil, and grill by using the power of the sun. This is a tasty way to help the earth! Generator One way to power your small appliances is by using generators. Solar-powered generators will allow you to use your basic appliances without plugging them up to electricity. Generators do not last too long, but it should provide enough energy throughout the day. This is really what you want since most of the electricity produced by factories ends up releasing unnecessary carbon into the atmosphere. Hot Water Everyone knows that water heaters work with gas or electricity, but did you know that you can install a solar-powered hot water system? Yes, and it should work just as efficiently as any other hot water appliance would work. It is estimated that about 80 percent of the annual cost associated with hot water can be cut using a solar-powered hot water heater, like those you can get from Degree C Pty Ltd. This also means that electricity use will be down, reducing your carbon footprint. Solar Panels This is perhaps the most expensive option, but it is one worth mentioning. These panels are installed on the roof of your home by professionals and are meant to provide the house with a sufficient amount of energy. Think of it as installing a large-scale generator that will power up your entire house. The expense is one reason why some do not opt for this choice while others do not want to install these panels above their roof due to several reasons like aesthetics or the stability of the roof. Nevertheless, it is a good option for those who would not mind installing these panels. These are just four ways that you can go green by using solar-powered appliances or making additions to your home. There are more ways that you can harness the power of the sun. Do not be afraid to make the switch that will help you save some cash and help the planet
  20. Creating an energy-efficient environment can benefit you in many ways. It can cut down your electric bill and provide you with the means to claim a tax break in some cases. If you have not yet transformed to living an energy-efficient life, these tips can help you get started. Have Your Insulation Checked The first and quickest way that you can be energy-efficient is by checking the insulation in your home. You contact a professional to have an inspection. If the inspection reveals poor insulation, then you know you need to tighten things up to maximize energy efficiency. Buy Energy Star Household Items The golden rule of energy efficiency is not getting too attached to one's old appliances. Look for the Energy Star logo whenever you shop for any household appliances. Examples of items that you may need to replace are items such as washing machines, clothes washers, refrigerators and the like. The Energy Star symbol is a guarantee that your new device is going to use as little energy as possible to do the job it needs to do. Renovate by Swapping Out Major Equipment You will need to conduct some major upgrades if you want to receive the tax breaks and truly get the most out of your energy efficiency potential. For example, you may want to replace your current boiler with one from a company like Nationwide Boiler. Obtain a Special Energy Measurement Sensor Many people would use less energy if they could get on-demand usage stats. Therefore, you may want to buy a gadget or device that measures the amount of energy that you are consuming on any given day. You can then manipulate the amount of energy that you use. Such devices do exist, although they are probably few and far between. Regularly Maintain Your Appliances Another way that you can ensure that you maintain an energy efficient environment is if you perform regular maintenance on your appliances. For example, you can dust your air conditioner and change the filters so it doesn't have to work harder than normal to cool the room. You can do the same with the heating system, fridge and other appliances. Have a professional come in and provide maintenance to the items that you don't quite understand. Use the previously mentioned ideas to get yourself started on an efficient path. You can apply the tips to a business or a large-scale project, as well.
  21. If you are purchasing a new home, there are several eco-friendly features that you should consider investigating. Transforming your home into something that is both environmentally friendly and comfortable can be easy if you consider incorporating these features. Consider eco-conscious landscaping Landscaping is one part of a home that is almost always possible to change. However, when looking for a new home, it’s good to look for eco-friendly landscaping that is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally conscious. Instead of traditional flowers, there might be drought resistant plants, or native plants, that do not require a large amount of water. It’s also becoming more common to see landscaping choices like rocks and woodchips that take the place of some or all of the grass in a yard and cut down on water usage. These are both great starts on eco-conscious landscaping, but the most valuable thing to look for in your next home’s landscape is an updated irrigation system. Good irrigation systems use less water, cover only what needs to be watered, and are often programmable. Install Solar Panels Many new homes have incorporated solar paneling on top of the house. Solar panels allow the house to receive a certain percentage of its energy from the sun. There are many companies that can install solar paneling which can not only enhance the resale value of your home but also help to cut down on energy costs. Buying a house already equipped with solar panels is one way to go, but you can also look for a home that has a strong electrical system that could accommodate the electrical needs of a solar panel system. In addition to checking out the house, you may want to check out what kinds of benefits you may get from the city for having solar power for your home. Eco-Friendly Windows and Natural Lighting One of the best things homeowners will upgrade in their home is the windows. Windows are a great investment because they add value to the home and pay for themselves by saving money on heating and air conditioning. These particular windows are also great for the interior of the home because they block UV rays from fading or damaging upholstery and carpet. Eco-friendly windows will also help to regulate temperatures in your home during both hot and cold weather. In addition to eco-friendly windows, you may want to consider a design that incorporates more natural light throughout the house. Windows and skylights are a great way to fill a home with light without spending any money on electricity. Any of these things are a great thing to look for when buying a new home because they can help you save money in the long-term. While you may be able to find homes with great eco-friendly features, sometimes you’ll have to make those upgrades yourself. Either way, it’s a good idea to consult a real estate agent like those at Mark Fox Company to get details on any of the homes you’re interested in. Research all of your options and you will find that creating an eco-conscious house can be easier than you think.
  22. Green and eco-friendly construction is the way of the future. Current homeowners are doing what they can to make their homes green through small (or large) remodeling projects. While some can get pricey, the long-term pay off for any green project is immeasurable. Technology is being developed every day to advance green building practices, maximize renewable resources, and reduce our carbon footprint. If you are looking to make your home more environmentally friendly, here are a few suggestions for your next remodel. Cool Roofs Cool roofs are quickly becoming the way of the future according to professionals at Roland’s Roofing. The special tiles and reflective paint reflect sunlight and heat, keeping the home cooler in the summer. This reduces the need to use an HVAC system, saving the owners money but also reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission. Reclaimed Floors Reclaimed wood is being used more and more for flooring projects in homes. Reclaimed wood is durable, renewable, and recycled, meaning no new trees have to be cut down. Backing without harmful VOCs is also becoming more popular to create a truly green floor. Although not reclaimed, bamboo flooring is also on the rise since it is inexpensive, durable, and the plant matures quickly. Solar Panels More home owners are opting to go solar. Solar panels are fairly quick and easy to install, increase home value, and pay themselves off in 5 to 10 years depending on your energy use. They also require little long-term maintenance. Direct Vent Fireplaces Homeowners who want a fireplace without the hassle of a fire place are turning to direct vent fireplaces. Wood-burning fireplaces may be charming and romantic, but they require a lot of upkeep and the pollutants they produce can irritate your lungs. Direct vent gas fireplaces use air for combustion and can be vented vertically or horizontally, meaning you don’t need a chimney either. Storm Water Management When remodeling, don’t forget the outside. Landscaping the outside of your home to better manage large volumes of water will come in handy after a big storm. Not only can this help prevent flooding, plants in your yard will be able to absorb the water and purify it as it soaks into the soil. This also helps curb erosion in more rural areas. Just because you are not in the market for a new home doesn’t mean you need to miss out on green home trends. Use the above ideas to improve your home as well as the environment around you.
  23. You've probably noticed the growing popularity of solar panels, as they've become less expensive and more refined in the past few years. And although many of your neighbors may be sprucing up their roofs with solar panels, is it really worth the switch for your wallet and the environment? Here are some of the pros and cons of solar power systems to help you decide if making the switch is right for you. Pros No Greenhouse Gas Emissions The process of obtaining and using solar energy does not result in any chemical by-products. No gases, smokes, or any other potentially harmful substances are released, making solar energy a healthier option for your family and the environment. Tax Credits and Cash Rebates In a nutshell, there are a lot of people who want you to switch over to solar energy. The federal government, state governments, and several utility companies are willing to reward those who install solar power systems. The federal government will match dollar-for-dollar 30 percent of the cost of your system as a tax credit, and several state governments also offer tax credits to those who install solar energy systems. Not to mention the savings on your monthly power bill, and the possibility of selling your SREC (solar renewable energy certificates) to make an extra few hundred or thousand dollars each year. No Ongoing Energy Costs The great thing about solar energy is that it’s literally available to anyone, anywhere. So once you have a way to harness and use solar energy, you don’t have to keep paying for it. Other than the initial costs of installing a system, as well as some light maintenance, you won’t have to pay anything for the energy. Can Function off the Grid An especially appealing feature for those who live in rural areas is the possibility of using solar power to power buildings and structures that would otherwise require expensive power line installation, or that experience frequent power outages. Not Influenced by Politics Since no particular country or person can own the sun or its energy, you don’t have to worry about costs fluctuating because of politics or the conditions of international relations. Cons It Doesn't Work at Night Your house will still be connected to the main power grid when your solar energy system cannot generate enough electricity, like at night when the sun has gone down. Solar Panels are Large In order to make the switch to solar energy, you have to be willing to sacrifice the consistent look of your roof. Solar panels are just big and bulky. The more-efficient silicon crystalline wafer solar panels are particularly thick and large. New, thinner panels have been developed, but these are not as efficient as the larger crystalline wafer solar panels. It's not Very Efficient As mentioned above, solar energy is not consistent because the sun is not always available. Solar panels in general have about a 20 percent efficiency rate, which measures how much of the sun’s energy the panels are able to convert into usable electricity. Efficiency is improving, and considering the cost on the environment and other factors of using traditional fossil fuels for energy, many people dub even 20 percent a raging success. If you’re considering making the switch to solar energy, get a free quote and learn more about the process.
  24. Does Ireland really get enough sunshine to make Solar Energy worthwhile? Yes. Believe it or not, Ireland actually gets the same amount of sunlight as most of central Europe (the best approximation would be southern France). This is more than enough to make Solar Panels a viable energy option in Ireland. Do Solar Panels only work when it's sunny? No. Even when it is cloudy, the sun's rays provide plenty of harvestable energy. This is known as 'indirect sunlight', which accounts for 60% of all energy provided by the sun. Only 40% of solar energy comes from direct sunlight, so a bright sunny day is not necessary for generating a viable source of solar power. What do Solar Panels actually generate? Over the course of the year, the energy converted by solar panels can provide roughly 65% of a household's hot water. During the summer months this can rise above 95%. What's the difference between Evacuated Tube and Flat Plate Solar Panels? Evacuated Tube Solar Panels are generally more efficient in terms of energy in cloudy weather conditions (i.e. the weather typically observed in Ireland). Flat Plate Solar Panels, while somewhat less efficient in terms of energy production during periods of poor weather, are more durable and are far less likely to require maintenance at any point, making them more budget efficient options for households. My house is quite old. Can Solar Panels still be attached to it? Yes. Some roof tiles may have to be removed to facilitate the Solar Panels, but this is not a major operation and it will not disturb the interiors of a home in any way. The panels themselves are very light so no structural reinforcement is needed. Do I need planning permission to install Solar Panels? No. Planning permission is not required to install Solar Panels on domestic buildings in the Republic of Ireland so long as the panels are smaller than 12 meters squared. Where is the best place to put Solar Panels? The optimum position for Solar panels is facing south and at a 45 degree angle. This will catch more sunshine (and will create more energy) over the course of the year in Ireland than any other layout. While Solar Panels can be placed on walls or even on the ground, the roof is generally considered the best spot as it tends to be away from areas of activity, limiting the chances of them getting damaged. Once installed, what are the running costs of Solar Panels? As there are virtually no moving parts (with the exception of a small circulation pump), the cost of running Solar Panels at full energy producing capacity is negligible - in the region of 20c per year. How long does it take for Solar Panels to start 'paying for themselves'? After approximately 4 or 5 years the savings made from energy created by Solar Panels will have completely covered the cost of purchase and installation (as well as the aforementioned small ongoing maintenance costs). After that, the Solar Panels will essentially be creating free energy on an ongoing basis. What other benefits do you get from installing Solar Panels? In addition to the energy savings you will make, the addition of Solar Panels will greatly increase a house's resale value. The house will also benefit from an improved BER (Building Energy Rating). How long do Solar Panels last? Due to a lack of moving parts, the Solar Panels themselves last a very long time and almost never require maintenance. As it is the only moving part in the whole system, the circulation pump is susceptible to minimal natural wear and tear. It is recommended that the pump is replaced once every 10 to 15 years. Luckily, a circulation pump is an inexpensive item which is easily replaced, usually costing between €10 and €20 - not much of an outlay over the course of a decade or so; working out at about a euro a year. Do Solar Panels come with a warranty? While different companies have different policies, it is usually possible to get a 10 year guarantee which covers repairs and maintenance when it comes to purchasing solar panel products. Are there any grants/subsidies available for buying Solar Panels? Yes. Among the money saving options available to Irish consumers is grant of up to €800 for the purchase/installation of Solar Panels from the SEAI's Better Energy Homes Scheme. More information on this scheme and other means of reducing the cost of Solar Panels can be found here.
  25. Are you passionate about environmentally responsible practices and green living? Would you like to have a job that paid your bills while also helping to save the planet? Today’s colleges are focusing more and more on providing degrees that can work for the environment. Whether it’s a science research in declining species, to a technology degree to help with wind turbines, or even an online mba in management information systems, more degrees are being created with the world in mind. Below are four job options you might be interested in, and how to get involved in the environment with your degree and career. Solar Panel Installer The solar energy industry has been booming in recent years, and as the technology has improved and the supply and demand have increased, costs have dropped significantly. This has allowed homeowners and small businesses to have solar panels installed on their homes and buildings, and reduce their electric bills to mere pennies per month. Solar installation is becoming a very popular job, and installers can make pretty good money. In some cases, specialized training via tech schools is not even necessary, as some employers will offer paid on-the-job training for new installers. Wind Turbine Distributor Not only have solar panels become more popular over the past few years, now wind turbines are rising in popularity too. And we're not just talking about those massive, high tech windmill that dot the landscape out in the desert. We're talking about much smaller units purchased by homeowners to set up in their back yards. There are many companies out there now who are looking for distributors, so you don't necessarily have to work for the company who designs and installs the systems; instead, you can become an outside sales representative and work for commissions. Green Energy Auditor Energy auditors inspect homes and commercial properties, looking for ways to cut down on energy costs. They often focus on improving window and door insulation to reduce heating and cooling costs. They might also recommend lighting systems that could reduce electricity usage. These types of changes not only help their clients to save the planet and preserve precious natural resources; they also help them to save money by reducing their monthly electric, gas and water bills. Green Home Designers Green design elements are being incorporated more and more into home construction and design, allowing for some pretty interesting and fulfilling jobs as green architects and green interior designers. Green principles can be applied every step of the way, from using recycled building materials, double-paneled insulation in the walls, double-paned glass windows, low-watt CFC lighting systems, rain catch-water systems, skylights and more. What better way to show off your artistic creativity, do something good for your community and for the planet, and make a living at the same time? These are just a handful of options in the green job market, but these ideas barely scratch the surface. There are countless opportunities out there today, with more being created every year. This is a young industry with a lot of room for growth. Go for the gold and find a program or job that offers a little more satisfaction for your part in the environment.