Solar Power Basics for Homeowners

With so many advances in green living of late, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the myriad choices available to consumers these days. Even if you’re looking to do your part for the environment and cut your carbon footprint, sifting through information about LEED certification, the Passive House ideal, and the many forms of pollution and waste that the average person perpetrates as a result of daily living can be intimidating. However, there’s one thing that most people can agree on: solar power is a great idea. This clean, green source of energy cuts your demand for power from the grid significantly (if not altogether), decreasing the energy and waste that most power plants are called upon to produce. But you might not know much more than that. So here are just a few of the basics you need to know before you go solar.

First of all, you should understand that solar panels can be affordable. You’ve no doubt heard that these products are expensive, and this is true. The average homeowner will spend somewhere in the range of $25,000-50,000 for a system to power their property. But with so many states (not to mention the federal government) pushing for power providers to increase the number of homes using renewable and sustainable energy sources, you’ll find that there are plenty of companies offering deals that can make solar panels more affordable. For example, some vendors will install your system with no up-front costs. Instead, you’ll make monthly payments over the course of, say, twenty years. In short, the monthly cost for your solar panels will virtually replace your energy bill. And in twenty years you’ll have free energy.

But before you get started, you really need to be realistic about the amount of sunlight you can anticipate in your region. If you live in a southern state that enjoys the sun year-round, you’re a good candidate for solar power. On the other hand, residents of the frozen north might not see as much appeal, although solar panels could be paired with other sustainable energy sources (wind, water, geothermal) to compensate during the winter months. And you have to make sure that you have a south-facing slope on which to place panels, whether it’s on the roof or in your yard. So long as you live in the northern hemisphere, you’ll find that south-facing slopes provide the best potential for optimally collecting the sun’s energy.

Finally, you should be aware that solar panels need regular service, just like any other electronic equipment in your home (your appliances, for example). In some cases, the solar power company that installs your panels will provide this as part of your package. Or if you’d rather, you can simply have a vendor like Icon Solar install your panels and you can learn to clean and maintain them yourself. With proper care, your panels could last you for years to come, providing the clean, green energy you crave along the way. But if you want to make a good investment, take the time to talk to a solar representative about what you can reasonably expect to gain on both the financial and environmental fronts when you opt to use solar power.

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