Bill Gates, American businessman and former CEO of Microsoft, once said that, “Almost every way we make electricity today, except for the emerging renewables and nuclear, puts out CO2. And so, what we’re going to have to do at a global scale is create a new system. And so, we need energy miracles.”
Although it takes a bit of an investment to set up at first, one such miracle is solar energy. It’s not only more cost effective, but solar energy is a cleaner source of powering our homes and businesses. In fact, according to studies by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, if just 5% of Americans converted to solar power, it would be like taking the CO2 from more than 7.5 million cars out of the atmosphere.
Solar Power Isn’t Free Energy
One misconception is that solar energy is free, when in fact the initial investment can be quite large. A typical solar installation can cost tens of thousands of dollars to set up if you buy the required equipment outright. However, things like leasing plans and incentives from various government agencies can make up the difference by as much as half the initial cost if not more. Be sure and do your research before going to the bank and asking for a loan.
If trees are blocking the view of the sun in the area where you wish to put the solar panels, then you also have the added cost of having the offending branches – or perhaps the entire trees, removed as well. Even if you think you can do the job yourself, it’s not without hazards. It’s better to reduce the risk and hire a company that’s insured, licensed and bonded to do the work.
How do You Know if Solar is For You?
There’s a lot to research and think about before making the decision to go solar. Sometimes the statistics and other facts can seem overwhelming. Start with this short checklist. By answering these few questions and tackling them at first, then you could save yourself a huge headache later.
How much energy usage does your household use each month?
- What steps can you take to reduce your energy usage, and are you already taking advantage of as many of these steps as possible?
- Where do you live, and does the local government require permits for solar panel installation?
- When does your roof get the best exposure to the sun? Is it southward-facing, which is the best direction for solar panels to face?
- Who is available in your geographic area to help install the solar panels and other parts necessary to convert to sun-powered energy? And more importantly, do they provide a free consultation?
Besides all the financial reasons to go solar, using electricity powered by the sun can drastically reduce your carbon footprint. At this point, anything you do to benefit Planet Earth is a positive step towards the future. Solar energy doesn’t burn fossil fuel or release greenhouse gasses, which contributes to global warming.
Baby Steps to Going Solar
While it is common sense to recycle glass, metals, and plastics or buy locally over things that will need to be shipped across the globe, household energy is something people don’t think about quite as much. Even if you can’t convert to whole-house solar power, there are steps you can take to converting your lifestyle to one that’s powered by the sun.
When researching about solar energy appliances, you might be surprised. In addition to generators and water heaters, you can even get cell phone chargers, flashlights, lanterns, and outdoor landscaping lights that work off energy harnessed by the sun.
Leaving a Brighter Legacy for the Future
In addition to saving money on your energy bills, according to the Center for Sustainable Energy of California, solar panels that produce energy for your home can add an estimated $15,000 towards the value of your home if you ever wish to put it up for sale in the real estate market.
Because panels can last up to 25 years without needing replaced, they require minimal maintenance which almost guarantees they’ll benefit another generation as well. But best of all, when you add solar power to your home, you’re telling the next generation of humans that you care about the earth – and that they should, too!
About the Author
Freelance author Sophie Evans lives with her husband Rick and their two children in Balboa Beach, California. A self-proclaimed Starbucks addict, she works out of her home where she writes articles related to different things in her life. For instance, she just used the website http://www.go-green-solar-energy.com/ to double check facts about solar energy for a short series of articles on the topic.