Few projects in the home improvement sector are greener than solar panel installation. After all, our reliance on fossil fuels can be blamed on everything from skyrocketing home heating and cooling costs to the potentially devastating effects of global warming, making it clear that anything a homeowner can do to reduce our dependency on non-renewable resources is a smart move from a green perspective. Add to that the fact that the sun is the most renewable energy resource in the solar system, and there’s no doubt that solar panel installation is as eco-friendly as it gets.
Thanks to the rapidly advancing rate of technology, variations in the cost of solar from city to city and region to region, and the wide range of needs presented by different projects, it’s nearly impossible to pin down an average cost for solar panels across the board. Your best bet is to collect bids from several local contractors experienced in installation to get a specific estimate for your home. What we can tell you is that the benefits reach far beyond your initial investment. Solar panels are guaranteed to reduce your home energy bills for the next 20 to 30 years, making them an excellent example of a home improvement that is certain to pay for itself over time—and then some.
“Avoiding the Payback Trap”: The True Value of Solar Panels
That being said, a wise homeowner looks beyond investments and returns when considering whether to go green. Making your money back is a big incentive, to be sure, but other aspects of living earth-friendly are far more valuable. For example, what value would you place on freeing yourself from the mental burden of worrying about next month’s electricity bill, reducing your contribution to the production of harmful greenhouse gases, or passing a better world on to your kids and grandkids? The truth is that these things have value far greater than any energy savings you might enjoy, making the real value far greater than any figure using dollars and cents.
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Solar Panel Installation Tips
- Grid-Connected Solar Panels—Grid connected systems are plugged into the wider utility grid in your area. When your solar panels are producing more electricity than you’re using, the excess is diverted to the utility company and your meter runs backwards, reducing your energy bill accordingly. When you use more electricity than your solar panels can provide, you draw from the larger system and your meter runs forward. These systems provide incentive to conserve energy, since it’s in your best interests to draw as little power as possible beyond what your solar panels provide.
- Off-Grid Photovoltaic Systems—These systems run independently of your larger utility hookup. An off-grid system costs a little bit more than a grid connected system, mostly due to the installation and upkeep of batteries required for storing energy.
- Supplemental Energy—Off-grid systems are also a good solution for outdoor lighting, electric fences, or other low-demand energy needs. They also provide a welcome supply of electricity during interrupted service. That can come in pretty handy, whether you’re looking for a post-blizzard cup of coffee or need to protect computer equipment and keep your home office up and running.
- Remote Locations—If you live more than one-fourth of a mile away from existing electric lines, off-grid systems are often just as economical as paying to extend utility services to your location.
- The Environment—Whether you choose a grid connected or off-grid system, installing photovoltaic solar panels will reduce your dependency on fossil fuels and help curb the production of greenhouse gases and other fossil fuel related pollutants. With to 20 to 30 years of service from a quality set of photovoltaic solar panels, the environmental benefits of going solar look pretty darn impressive.
Making the Leap: Solar Panel Installation
Installing a photovoltaic system in your home isn’t a piece of cake. It requires that your contractor understands the ins and outs of local regulations, acquiring the proper homeowners permits, working with your utility company, and making the most of any rebates that your municipality or utility provider may offer. Furthermore, since installing solar panels involves your home’s electrical system, roofing, and the installation of the panels themselves, it’s important that your contractor has intimate knowledge of all three aspects. If you think going solar is the right choice for you, be sure to talk to your contractor about installing a photovoltaic system, find a contractor who specializes in solar energy solutions, or seek out the services of a green consulting firm to help you plan and design the best, and greenest, solar energy collection system you possibly can.