Discussions surrounding global warming and “green” energy options bombard us from every media outlet as scientists warn us about a bleak future if we don’t change our ways. Solar energy is one energy alternative worthy of serious consideration, offering us a way to save money and clean up the environment simultaneously. This inexhaustible fuel source is not without a few minor drawbacks, but it does provide locally-harnessed clean energy that is independent of foreign political agendas.
National Geographic reports that solar energy usage has increased an estimated 20 percent annually over the last 15 years. By taking advantage of tax incentives and energy savings, solar system installation often breaks even, paying for itself in a five to ten year period.
- The time to buy solar power is now.
As environmental concerns start to take center stage on the political scene, prices are likely to rise. Current government incentives that offer a 30 percent tax credit may soon go away as more homeowners fully appreciate the logic behind this investment in future energy savings. Homeowners who speculate that prices will drop further are betting on the fact that solar energy will not be in high demand in the future. Getting a quote from SunElec Solar Panels is a good place to start your research so you can analyze the facts.
All trends suggest that the public is becoming increasingly concerned with energy savings and climate control. Sunrun published a prediction by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) that speculates that within five years most power will be renewable.
- The condition and age of your roof are important when installing solar panels.
In terms of roof suitability for solar energy, not all roofs are created equal. Depending on the type of roof in question, Solar Power Authority reports that most systems are expected to last about 30 years. Considering that asphalt roofs only last about 20 years, this type of roof can pose a problem for solar panels since roof repair or replacement should take place before installation.
Solar panel installation can also be complicated for other construction-related reasons. There can be additional charges added to install solar panels on some roofs like ceramic Spanish tile, concrete or flat designs. Additionally, the area of the roof where the panels will be placed needs to be unobstructed.
The roof’s angle is yet another factor that must be considered for construction purposes. To achieve the best results, the panels need to be installed at 30-35 degree angles.
While shade is a wonderful way to cool down your home, it makes solar panels less effective. If your roof is shaded because of nearby buildings or trees, then the solar panels will be blocked and less efficient.
- Your geographic location determines how much energy your solar panels can generate.
It is no secret that different geographic areas of the country are exposed to more sunshine. Not surprisingly, this factor determines how much energy can be generated by your system. People who live in southern states are in prime areas to fully benefit.
Conversely, residents who live in northern states will most likely need to use more solar panels if they want to jump on the solar energy bandwagon and access enough energy. Careful, cost-benefit assessments can be calculated so consumers in northern states can make an educated decision about whether to change to solar power.
- There are multiple finance options for buyers who want to install solar panels.
Solar Power Authority reports that most systems cost anywhere from $25,000 to as much as $35,000. The cost depends on panel type and system size. While not everyone can pay the full cost upfront, many consumers take out a loan for the purchase.
You can also lease solar equipment if you can’t afford to buy it. While you won’t own solar system, you still get the benefits of lower utility bills for a small rental price.
- Installing solar panels has many benefits.
The obvious benefit of solar energy is lower energy bills. Additionally, when it is time to sell your home you’ll realize that your property value is higher because of your solar panels. Green energy also pays off as some homeowners claim that their home sold more quickly than other comparable homes in the area because of the solar energy system.
There is also some added peace of mind associated with using solar energy. You don’t live in fear of utility bill prices spiking. Unlike neighbors vulnerable to utility rate hikes, you never have to worry about utility companies raising your rates and throwing off your energy budget.
- Rebates and tax credits can lower the installation cost of solar energy significantly..
There are federal incentives and some state discounts to offset the initial investment. Solar rebates and incentives are common as clean energy gains popularity and wider acceptance. Sunrun reports that the federal government offers a 30 percent discount off solar systems.
- Maintenance and running expenses for solar energy are low.
It is a good idea to call the installer to inspect your system every four years or so. While there may be occasional maintenance necessary when leaves stick to the panels or limbs fall on the roof, but that is about the extent of the maintenance required. Fortunately, you can hose off the leaves in most cases. Typical warranties run for 25 years.
The only other maintenance issue to anticipate is that the inverter will have to be replaced in 10 to 15 years. The inverter is the piece of equipment that converts DC to AC.
Given the upfront cost of solar energy, it is important to fully understand the investment involved and the benefits derived. While solar energy may not be a good choice for all people, depending on where you live and the type of roof you own, this clean energy source represents the future for many people.