Why You Should Go Solar and How To Make It Affordable

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We all know that solar power is a greener energy source than most. We see them springing up on houses around us, we hear large multinationals proclaiming that they are incorporating this energy source…it makes sense. Harnessing the power of the sun is far better than burning fossil fuels right?

But how exactly does it work?

What energy is required in order to harness the solar power in the first place?

And how can we make use of this at home?

Surely those panels don’t come cheap! ….and as for the installation……

Well that is where The Good Human can come in. We have been digging around online and want to share the facts about changing over to this eco friendly option. Hopefully we will cover all of your questions here, but if there is anything else you would like to know please comment below and we will do our best to fill the blanks!

Why Is Solar Energy A Greener Option?

  • Solar energy doesn’t emit greenhouse gases or other pollution into the atmosphere.
  • Solar energy uses a very small amount of water compared to other energy sources. Wind power is the most efficient in terms of water consumption, but solar solar photovoltaic (PV) is a close second and it uses far less than coal and oil.
  • We use water in order to pump oil from the ground, flush out the power plant exhausts, clean residual fossil fuel and keep power plants cool amongst other things.
  • Researchers at Virginia Water Resources Research Center found that fossil-fuel-fired thermoelectric power plants consume more than 500 billion liters of fresh water per day in the United States. That works out to 95 liters for 1 kilowatt hour of electricity.
  • This is of particular interest when you consider that water resources are being depleted at an alarming rate.
  • Solar energy means we will have cleaner air, water and soil.
  • As a nation we will not need to rely on importing fuel – as we have free access to the sun.
  • Using solar energy on a massive scale will mean creation of new jobs.
  • …and of course…reduced green house gases in the atmosphere….and a reduction in Global warming effects.

But?

  • A small amount of pollution occurs during the manufacture of the solar panels.
  • Also some parts of the panels themselves are not the greenest things you can find – but there are different companies who are more eco-friendly than others.
  • Overall, the pros far outweigh the cons. As well as being good for the environment they are light on your pocket over time. Let’s look at the benefits to you in more detail.

Benefits To You

There are advantages to installing solar panels in your home, your business or public service buildings. Yes, there are outlays in cost and we will look at those a little further along….but lets get started with the good stuff.

Reduced Electricity Costs

Using solar power results in IMMEDIATE savings on your electricity bill. Your bills will be smaller, without a doubt. But just how much smaller?

It does depend on a couple of things. Number one is how many panels you install. This is personal preference – your limit is only space..and budget.
Each kilowatt of installed solar capacity = more savings for you. It is not unheard of for some Americans to completely provide their own electricity – that means a $0 bill each month. It is even possible to be paid for any surplus that you feed back onto the grid in some areas….more about that in the next point!solar panels

The other benefit is that you will not be effected by price hikes dictated by electricity companies. The cost of sunlight should (you never know!) remain a free resource – clean and constant for the foreseeable future!

Money Generating!

This point does depend on where you live – but as mentioned above, solar panels can even help you to build a passive income!

At the moment government incentives are generous. If you install solar photovoltaic panels some states in America will actually pay you for the energy that your panels create. You can run a free solar report on your property here.

Increased Property Value

Most solar panels have a lifespan of 25 years, and so if you are planning to sell your property in that time, you can expect to have an enormous bargaining tool on your side. This article from Forbes examines just how much you can add to the value of your home by installing solar panels.

For the average installation, the authors found that solar panels added a $20,194 premium to the sales price of the house based on repeat sales data (houses were in the mid-$500,000 range). Solar is really expensive to install—the average total system cost is $35,967, but the effective price to homeowners with subsidies including the federal tax credit is $20,892. Thus, homeowners appear to recover approximately 97% of their investment costs – in addition to the savings associated with reduced energy bills.

You can expect to recoup an average of 97% of the cost of installation! That beats a new kitchen any day.

So there are enormous benefits to you, your business, our local municipality and the planet! Sounds perfect!

But wait….we promised to talk about the cost of installation, so here goes.

How Much Does It Cost To Install Solar Panels?

As you would expect there is no single answer to this question. The answer depends on a few things:

  • How many panels you would like
  • Where your property is located
  • Whether you qualify for a solar incentive (see below)
  • Whether you want to own or lease the panels (see below)

The average price can be around $35,000 – but it is possible to pay nothing upfront.

How To Make Solar Power Affordable

As we mentioned above there are a few options that you can choose to reduce or eliminate your installation cost.

Government Subsidies

You can see if you are eligible in the United States by checking this link to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.

Consider Leasing Solar Panels

There are companies such as Sunpower who offer a number of flexible options to make solar power a reality in your home. The image explains the options in a little more detail. solar-lease-and-loan-options_0

Join a Community Solar Garden

A community solar garden is a 2-megawatt (MW) or smaller solar PV project with a group of subscribers living in the same county.  The solar garden can be built by businesses, non-profits, or utilities. The subscribers buy a portion of the garden for a reduced rate and the energy produced by their portion is deducted from their overall energy bill. Working together in a community like this means that the traditional barriers to entry to this great energy alternative can be overcome.

Colorado is leading the way with solar gardens, as they have passed the first state law to allow these CSGs, which Renewable Energy World say “…may open the floodgates, turning distributed solar power into democratic solar power,”

“Clean Energy Collective (CEC) sold the parcels of solar to residents for as little as $725. CEC predicts a 67% increase of community solar energy in the next five years.”

Apply For Solar Panel Financing

There is a company called PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) which supports individuals by financing clean energy.

If you are eligible, the city will offer you a loan to install, and you pay it back through tax bills over 15 or more years. So you don’t have to reduce equity in your home or pay out cash up front.

How does PACE work?
The city partners with a company to administer the program (or the city decides to do it themselves).
The program is then usually funded with municipal bonds.
The homeowner gets a site evaluation for solar power or energy efficiency improvements with any company they choose.
Once a quote is given, the property owner applies with the city program administrator. A small fee covers the cost of the municipal solar financing program administration and discourages frivolous applications.
Once the homeowner’s solar system is approved by the city, the program administrator pays the installer for the system that the homeowner purchased. The check is forwarded directly to the solar installer. There is no upfront payment for the homeowner, except possibly a deposit.
The property owner pays it off on his or her property tax bill over 20 years, at a competitive rate of interest.
If the home is ever sold, the solar system goes with it along with any tax liability.

You can find out more about PACE in specific cities at www.energy.gov

Try Building Your Own Solar Panels

Some people choose to make their own solar panels as it reduces the costs by cutting out the middle man and installation fees. You can find our more on the link here. Although the guide is not free, it can save time and money in the long run compared to making potentially costly misktakes. It is of course far cheaper than buying from traditional manufacturers.

I would suggest taking your time and doing your homework if you want to take this route. Some tips that I have seen regarding building your own solar panels include steering clear of buying broken solar cells. Also make sure that a professional electrician checks the final wiring.

Plus remember to take good care of your batteries to extend their lives as long as possible – this can be done by keeping them charged!

Conclusion

I hope that this has cleared up any questions you may have had about solar panels. It is certainly not impossible to get onto the solar panel band wagon and the benefits are enormous.

What are your thoughts? Are you already a solar convert? Have you tried to build your own panels? Or do you think it is all a waste of time? We would love to hear from you!

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