Energy and Money-Saving Benefits of Solar Panels
Author: Carolyn Hart
Solar panels offer a myriad of benefits, not only for homeowners but for the planet’s overall health. In addition to helping you harness the sun's power to meet your home’s energy needs, you can protect the environment, as well as potentially qualify for some types of rebates. Here are some tips and resources from DC EcoWomen to get you started.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar panels can help reduce or even eliminate many home energy costs. In fact, if you generate more energy than you use, you may be able to sell the excess back to your local utility company. This can be especially helpful if you live in a sunny climate, such as the desert southwest. Although you are likely to use more energy in the warmer months when running your air conditioner for longer periods of time, you are also likely to generate more energy with an increase of sunny days.
If you're someone who's environmentally conscious, solar panels can help you live a greener life. Eco-friendly home modifications can reduce a home's carbon footprint with less reliance on other forms of energy. In particular, if you combine solar panels with other energy efficiency approaches, such as low-flow plumbing, drought-tolerant landscaping, low-E windows, and energy-efficient appliances, you can save money while contributing to a healthy environment. Solar-generated kilowatt-hours generated by solar energy reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as reduce other types of pollutants.
Although there is an initial investment for installing solar panels, homeowners may qualify for the Federal Housing Administration’s energy-efficient mortgage program, which allows you to build the cost of environmentally friendly practices into the cost of your mortgage. Other rebates may be available as well. Additionally, solar panels can add to the appraised value of your home, as the addition of panels is viewed by many prospective buyers as a major upgrade that will reduce their overall homeownership costs in the form of energy bill savings.
Is Your House Right for Solar Panels?
Some home designs lend themselves to solar panel installation and effectiveness better than others. The size and angle of your roof can have an impact on the effectiveness of panels, as can the size of the system you utilize. Older homes and different roofing materials can impact use, as can the roof’s exposure to the sun - for example, heavily shaded areas will be less effective than those in which the roof receives direct sunlight. A reputable and experienced solar panel installer can help you assess whether your roof or another area of your property is a good candidate.
What to Expect With Installation
Can you install solar panels yourself? According to EcoSolar, you can, but you will need to have specialized tools and knowledge to be safe and ensure proper installation. You can typically expect installation to take just a few days, but there are before-and-after considerations. Most solar panels are custom built to meet your home’s design, and there are numerous permits and inspection processes that are required. While an installer will handle this for you, it could take several months for your project to be complete. Also, keep in mind that not all homeowner associations permit the installation of solar panels, as they can potentially detract from the aesthetic value of your home. Check your CCRs in advance.
Adding solar panels to your home offers a number of benefits, from cost savings to environmental protection. If this is something you're interested in pursuing, request consultations from licensed, bonded, insured, and reputable solar panel installation companies, and ask for estimates in writing.
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