Energy conscious homeowners find themselves in the midst of a solar energy revolution and an unstable financial market. While we know in our hearts home solar energy is a good idea, practically speaking, it must make economic sense for the average American to embrace it. Organizing your home energy use around a 3-phase plan can make solar energy affordable.
With rising energy prices, dwindling fossil fuel supplies, and environmental and human concerns, all ears are attuned to the solar energy possibilities. But the road to solar euphoria is not a well-worn path. You are a pioneer on a new frontier.
Solar energy makes logical sense. Solar energy is a clean, abundant, and local energy source. No moving mechanical parts mean minimal maintenance requirements. Busy people love low maintenance. And who would not want a home running on a limitless, local energy supply that put no pollutants into the air? But current solar prices can cut the energy conversation short.
Sticker shock stops us in our tracks. How do we afford a solar home energy system? Still financially more expensive than fossil fuel, solar is becoming more affordable. Recent government tax incentives should stimulate the market for all renewable energy resources, solar included.
So how do we make it affordable?
Here are the three (3) steps to affordable home solar energy.
1. Conservation – The less energy your home uses, the smaller your carbon footprint, and the less you will spend on solar energy.
The process begins with mental attitude. Develop, maintain, and teach a habit of conservation in all areas of your life. Plan ahead so you drive less. Recycle even though it takes planning. When you landscape use plants native to your area; you will spend less time on yard maintenance. Take your lunch to work; it saves grocery and fuel dollars.
As you practice these conservation habits, discuss with your kids why the habits are good. When you visit with your neighbors and co-workers ask them how they practice conservation. They may share some new ideas with you.
To learn how to conserve energy at home, have a professional home energy audit. Call your local energy provider and ask if they will do home energy audits for their customers. If they do not offer this service, they should be able to give you names of local home energy audit professionals who can help you.
2. Efficiency — A home energy auditor can tell you how to conserve electricity. But more importantly, he will assess your home for energy efficiency. Learn to be efficient in our home energy consumption. Efficient as apposed to wasteful. Some items they check include insulation, windows, hot water heater, air conditioning, and heating systems.
Here are some simple things your energy auditor may suggest. Change to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Weather-strip your doors and windows. Install a timer on your hot water heater. Have your air conditioning and heating systems serviced. Turn off lights when leaving a room.
Greater efficiency means fewer kilowatt-hours used. Know the amount of energy, measured in kilowatt-hours, your home requires per month. The fewer kilowatt-hours needed the less costly the solar energy system.
3. Solar Energy Production — Finally, we investigate the best solar power system for a particular home. Making an informed choice about solar home energy requires knowing how many kilowatt-hours your home uses. When we actually know how many kilowatts of energy own home requires, a solar professional can calculate the solar panels necessary for that much energy.
For example, in my area of Texas installed solar systems cost $ 8 – $ 10 a watt. That’s $ 8000 – $ 10,000 for a 1-kilowatt system. I would need approximately $ 48,000 to purchase a 6000-watt array.
But the recent passing of the Federal Incentives for Renewable and Efficiency would bring the price down to roughly $ 33,600. Depending on your own state’s policies, this number could be further reduced.
Also in my state of Texas, there is a Renewable Energy Systems Property Tax Exemption. This property tax code reduces my property tax by the amount the solar device increases my property value. I am not taxed on the increase on the increased property value attributed to the solar energy equipment.
Tax incentives and rebates differ from state to state. A local solar professional should be able to give you current tax incentive and rebate information applicable to your state. They can calculate your final costs after incentives and rebates for a solar electric system best for your home.
After conservation and efficiency measures, you may still consider getting a smaller solar array that would supply a portion of your energy needs. Put the money you save on your monthly energy bill toward the next array of solar panels. Keep adding more solar panels until you can create as much energy as your home uses.
Solar energy made right on our home rooftops sounds inviting. For nearly all Americans, solar energy is the renewable resource which integrates most easily into our home energy equation. With proper conservation and efficiency measures and current tax incentives, solar energy can be made affordable to more homeowners.