How to Utilize Solar Power in Your Home

By Amanda Kostina

House Solar PanelWith the leaps and bounds in technology, renewable sources of power are becoming increasingly popular. These days, more and more homeowners are considering the switch to solar power to combat high energy bills and reduce the impact their home has on the environment. While interest in renewable energy is at an all-time high, there is still a bit of confusion over how solar power can be practically applied for residential use.

Understanding the Pros and Cons of Solar Power

The first step to understanding how to apply solar usage in your home is to understand what the advantages and disadvantages truly are to making such a switch. The savings on utility bills alone can be the primary influencing factor for many homeowners, but there are more advantages than just a bit more room in the monthly budget.

First and foremost, you’ll make a significant impact in terms of reduced dependence on fossil fuels and non-renewable sources of energy. Because solar power is such a hot trend, you’ll also be increasing the property value of your home by installing solar panels and a functional system. There are a variety of tax credits and incentives for switching to solar power, too, both on the federal and local level.

The disadvantages, while minimal, do bear closer examination before you make such a big decision. Depending on your property, you may be forced to remove trees that could obstruct the sun’s rays from reaching solar panels. Large buildings nearby can also be an impediment, and it’s not one so easily removed. Also, the initial investment is worth considering. While your system will pay for itself in time, the cost of installation can be prohibitively expensive for some homeowners. Your home will also need to be retrofitted for solar power if you’re not installing the system as part of a new construction.

Making Solar Power a Feasible Option

In order to harness the power of the sun as a source of energy, you will need to make a few changes to your daily lifestyle. Unplugging appliances when they’re not in use to prevent phantom loads is important. You’ll also need to switch to compact fluorescent lighting to trim the energy usage by lighting sources. Energy gain will only occur during daylight hours, so keeping your usage within reasonable levels during the evening is important. Still, most homes that utilize solar power are also connected to the local grid, which means that even if you burn through the energy gained through your solar panels, you’ll still be able to power your home. You just won’t be reaping the benefits of a free, renewable energy source during those times. Many families find that their usage is so low that they’re actually able to “sell back” excess power to the grid, usually in exchange for credits through their local electricity provider.

Work with a Reputable Service

You can purchase “plug and play” solar systems that will start generating solar power right away, or you can opt for standalone systems that are supplemented by solar power. For instance, installing garden and outdoor lighting with photovoltaic cells will allow you to light outdoor living spaces without using electricity or pulling from your gained energy for the day because they’re independent of a larger system. Because these options are relatively simple, sometimes requiring nothing more than appropriate placement, they’re easy projects to handle on your own. When you decide to take the plunge into whole-house solar power, however, you’ll need to work with a reputable, experienced contractor who can help you understand the process. Installing working solar panels and retrofitting your home to accommodate them is a specialized process, from the initial appraisal to the final reveal. In order to know what is and is not feasible for your home, it will need to be inspected by someone with the proper training and professional knowledge. This also holds true when the time comes for installation. Don’t be tempted by discount panels and do-it-yourself manuals. Just as you wouldn’t attempt to rewire your home by yourself, you shouldn’t attempt to convert it over to solar power. By working with a licensed professional, you’ll be able to determine both your needs and your property’s capability of producing a reasonable amount of solar power.

Understanding the process of converting to solar power and making the right choices for your individual property is integral to the success of your venture. With a bit of research and the help of a knowledgeable contractor, however, you’ll be on the road to using solar power in your home in no time at all.


This blog post was first published on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 in WhiteFence Savings.

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