Of all the alternatives to fossil fuels, solar energy has always been top of the list of the most promising. Sunlight is free, it’s abundant in most parts of the world and it’s even an option in some of the less sun-blessed parts of the world, like northern Europe. With technological advances and lowered prices, using solar energy in the home is something every eco-conscious home owner can consider.
The problem might be where to start. Here’s an idea: get a solar energy assessment to figure out how much sun you get (and the seasonal variations) and can use in your home. An assessment will also determine where you can put your photovoltaic solar panels. This clearly varies with every home, and correct placement is an important consideration. If you’re lucky your roof will be facing the right direction and the pitch will be at the right angle for efficient use of solar energy. Alternatively passive solar energy, which uses heat transfer, may be an option.
An assessment and well thought out plan is vital. If you can expect to capture a lot of sunlight, then it might be worth throwing yourself into it and investing more heavily, since you can get also get additional returns by selling surplus electricity back to the grid If the returns aren’t going to be that high, then you can make your choices and plan your budget accordingly. Also check out whether there are subsidies and grants available in your area.
Another thing to do right at the start is to look at your energy bills and needs, to decide what your priorities are. For almost all of us heating water and household heatings are two of the big ones when it comes to expenditure on energy. Solar panels on the roof that will help especially with hot water bills and winter warmth are a big saver but depending on your location and domestic situation you may have other needs. It’s important to realize, for example, that solar energy can be used to cool a home as well as heat it up. Solar energy can also be a boon for gardeners and horticulturalists.
Competent service providers should be able to give you the information you need on how many panels you require, but don’t take their advice for granted. As in every industry there’s a lot of hard sell going on. If possible, get several quotes and compare advice before making costly decisions – and solar panels are costly, though they should pay for themselves in the longer term.
It might turn out that #solar roof panels aren’t for you. There are still ways you can use solar energy in and around your home. We’re all familiar with solar calculators and flashlights, but these days the items available include solar chargers, fans, water pumps and fountains, golf carts and much much more. There’s a place for solar energy somewhere in every home.
Posted October 28, 2013
by Gabriel Posternak.