The benefits of introducing renewable energy sources into your home are many. As well as helping the environment, using greener power sources can save you serious money, and new generation installations have become exceedingly efficient. There’s a certain satisfaction in generating your own power and not relying on energy companies – you could even end up selling your surplus power back to them! Plus, renewables can add lasting value to your home, and there are various tax incentives available to install them. We take a look at what you can do with solar power and what you need to know to make your home greener and leaner.
By far the most popular home renewable to install is solar panels, so they’re a great place to start if it’s your first installation. Usually, they are mounted on a rooftop, although freestanding models that can be put into your backyard if you have some spare land are also available. The power yield depends on where the panels are installed, but a few square feet of solar panels usually generate all the power an average household needs. Of course, when the sun goes down, so does your power, so you will need to supplement with regular electricity or another form of renewable. But for the minimal outlay and relative ease of installation, they’re still a top pick.
New types of solar shingles have also come onto the market. They replace standard roof tiles with energy generating ones, and although they are relatively new to the market, they’re quickly gaining in popularity. If you’re needing a new roof any time soon it’s a great idea to look into. Elon Musk’s SolarCity has recently announced plans to start manufacturing them. There are lots of options out there, so take a look at some reviews where people post about their experience with SolarCity first.
Although solar power is better known as an electricity generator, it can also be used to power other elements of your home – how about getting your hot water from the power of the sun? Much like a traditional gas boiler, solar power is used to heat a reservoir tank of water – but the beautiful part is, it’s a lot cheaper than using electricity or gas to do the same. If the installation of solar panels puts you off, a solar hot water system is so much easier, so it can be an ideal first commitment to using renewable energy. Many people find that once they get solar hot water, then they want to go ahead and install more systems! The market has a lot of solar water heaters, so the choice is out there.
Do you know what the single most significant power drain in your house is likely to be? For most, it’s running the AC. That means a big bill during the summer months, especially if your home uses central air. Now, it may sound counter-intuitive to use a hot source like the sun to cool down a building, but solar air conditioning is becoming more and more popular because it’s very efficient. The heat from the sun is used as energy to power an air conditioning system within the house. As hot water is produced as a by-product of the process, it makes sense to run a solar air con system alongside the hot water system – two renewable energy sources in one fell swoop.
Cooking with the sun
If a complete solar electricity system, or even just adapting the water and air conditioning seems like too much upheaval right now, you can look into installing a solar oven. Again, an oven is a significant drain on electricity so eliminating it from the usual power supply should impact on your bills. The proposition is simple – the oven traps sunlight and uses the energy as a heat source to cook dinner for you. You can purchase and install a solar oven quite quickly or even build your own
Tax credits and rebates
What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are substantial tax advantages to going green with your energy too. There are multiple ways to benefit. A federal income tax credit of 30% of your total system costs is available that reduces the cost of installation and purchasing equipment. State and local level tax rebates and Solar Renewable Energy Credits are also available and can cut the price in half. Many companies are now offering no-cost installation, where they cover the expense of panels and installation, effectively leasing your roof space with you receiving a discount on electricity in return.
There’s lots to explore with solar power, but ultimately, your investment is making for a greener environment – and a healthier bank balance!