Going solar can be a great way for homeowners and business owners to reduce their energy bills and contribute to a more sustainable future. However, before making the switch, it’s important to get helpful information about solar energy to make the right choice for your home or business. And if you’re just beginning your journey into solar energy, here are some helpful basics to help get you started.
What is solar energy?
Solar energy is the radiant light and heat generated by nuclear fusion that takes place in the sun. It makes life on earth possible by providing light and warmth, driving weather patterns, and generating photosynthesis. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant energy source in the world, and humans have been trying to harness its power for tens of thousands of years.
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How does solar work?
Modern technology has made harnessing the power of the sun easy and effective. There are two primary ways to capture the sun’s rays and generate electricity.
The first is by using solar panels. There are two main types of solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are more efficient and have a higher power output, but they are also more expensive. Polycrystalline panels are less efficient, but they are also less expensive. There are also thin-film solar panels, which are more flexible and lightweight than traditional panels, but they are less efficient and have a shorter lifespan. Solar panels are often installed on rooftops to generate on-site electricity to power homes, businesses, and other electrical needs such as electric vehicles.
The second method is concentrating solar power (CSP). Mirrors are used to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat, which can then be used to produce electricity. CSP is used primarily for large solar plants or solar farms.
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What is the environmental impact of using solar energy?
Solar energy is a sustainable and renewable energy source, which means that it won’t run out like fossil fuels will. Also, it does not produce any greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.
Here are some interesting statistics that demonstrate the environmental benefits of using solar energy:
- Solar energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 98% compared to fossil fuels. (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
- Solar panels on residential rooftops can offset up to 100% of a home’s electricity use and reduce carbon emissions by over 80,000 pounds per year. (U.S. Department of Energy)
- Solar energy can help reduce water usage in power production by up to 86% compared to traditional fossil fuel power plants. (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
- Solar energy systems can help reduce the urban heat island effect by shading buildings and reducing energy demand for cooling. ( U.S. Department of Energy)
- The use of solar energy in place of traditional power sources has the potential to avoid the emission of 2.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2050. (International Renewable Energy Agency)
If it’s important to you and your family to live more sustainably and make environmentally conscious consumer decisions, then making the switch to solar energy is a great way to do so.
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Will I save money by switching to solar energy?
While solar energy is a great investment in the long run, it does come with some upfront costs. The cost of solar panels and installation “soft costs” have decreased significantly in recent years, but it can still be a significant expense to install a solar system on your home. However, many states offer incentives and tax credits to help offset these costs, and there are federal incentives as well.
Also, the amount of money you can save can depend on several other factors.
- How much electricity you consume
- The size of your solar energy system
- Whether you choose to buy or lease your system
- The direction your roof faces and how much sunlight hits it
- The electricity rates set by your utility company and how much you will be compensated for the excess solar energy you send back to the grid
- Whether you have battery storage for the electricity you produce
How do I get started switching to solar?
Do your research! The best place to start is to talk to people you know who have already made the switch to solar. They can give you much-needed honest feedback about their own experiences as well as recommendations for qualified installers in your area.
Next, start searching the internet. Thoroughly read the reviews of your local installation companies and invite at least three to your home to request proposals and to evaluate whether or not your roof and location are suitable for solar panels. Make sure to ask to see examples of their work and to visit the homes of previous installations.
If you rent, live in an apartment complex, or have few solar energy companies in your area, contacting a solar co-op could help you determine your options for utilizing solar energy.
Read more … Top Questions You Should Ask Any Solar Company
For More In-depth Information About Solar Energy …
There’s so much to learn about solar energy, and if you’re looking for unbiased and informative resources, you’re in luck!
- Solar United Neighbors is a non-profit organization that offers numerous free resources for homeowners and businesses such as their Go Solar Guide and Battery Storage Guide.
- The United States Department of Energy is an excellent resource for information about sustainable and renewable energy sources and its Solar Energy Technologies Office provides up to date news and information about solar energy.
- The National Renewable Energy Laboratory provides a variety of information about basic energy sustainability as well as up-to-date news and research.
Explore these resources to deepen your understanding of solar energy and how it can benefit your home, business, and our planet.