Pamela McArdle's Blog
Solar is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. Each year, hundreds of thousands of homes go solar, adding thousands of new jobs and preventing massive amounts of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
It has never been a better time to go solar. However, the rapid technological advancements and the growing market of solar power companies means that you have several options to consider if you’re thinking about going green.
Types of residential solar power
The first thing to understand about solar power is that there are several different types you can get for your home. From roof-installed solar panels to off-site solar farms, you have options when it comes to powering your house cheaply and efficiently.
Leasing and purchasing PV panels
One of the most common ways that people power their home with solar power is by leasing rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels from a solar company. There are different leasing options available from different companies, so it’s a good idea to shop around the solar providers in your area.
Leasing is a great option for those who don’t have the funds to purchase panels but still want to lower their monthly electricity bill. Companies who offer leasing often install and maintain the panels for free. The panels will be hooked up to your local energy grid. Each month, your electricity bill will be reduced by the amount that is produced by your panels. The way the solar company earns is by selling a portion of the solar produced back to the energy company and by collecting incentives from state and federal governments.
Purchasing your panels outright has its advantages. When you purchase your own panels you can more greatly reduce or even eliminate your monthly utility bills without giving a cut back to the solar company. However, this also means you’re responsible for the care and maintenance, and insurance of the panels.
Many people would love to reduce their electricity bill and help reduce carbon emissions, but they just can’t stand the look of solar panels on their roof. Fortunately, off-site solar farms are also growing in popularity. This type of solar power comes with all of the same benefits of rooftop solar except that it isn’t located on your house.
Typically a vacant spot of land is used as a solar “farm.” Community members can opt to lease or own a portion of the farm to contribute towards powering their home.
This option is particularly beneficial to those who lack roof-space, or who have a roof that doesn’t receive an optimal amount of sunlight.
As I mentioned earlier, solar power is an industry that is rapidly changing. If you’re not ready just yet to install solar panels or join a shared solar community, it’s still a good idea to look ahead at emerging technologies.
One such example is Tesla’s new solar roofs. The idea is that instead of installing panels, the roof itself comes with panels built-in. What’s more, the roofs are said to last longer than traditional roofs, and they’ll come in a variety of styles which mimic traditional shingles and comes in Tuscan, textured glass, and slate options.
Now more than ever it’s important to take personal steps to decrease your carbon footprint on the earth. As world leaders make plans to decrease carbon emissions worldwide, the threat of climate change can seem distant and far away. However, we are already seeing the beginning of the devastating effects it will have on the earth and humanity alike.
Why go solar?
Aside from the vitally important environmental aspect we mentioned above, rooftop solar is becoming increasingly beneficial to homeowners. Not only are many homeowners seeing their electricity bills cut in half, but leasing programs make installing panels a zero-liability issue for homeowners worried about damage to the panels or to their roof.
Solar technology is constantly improving. In the very near future, consumers will be able to move entirely off the grid when it comes to producing electricity for their home.
Tesla’s Elon Musk recently announced a fully integrated solar rooftop that he claims will be as affordable if not cheaper than a regular roof. The bonus? The power that Tesla’s roofs produce will be able to be stored in an integrated battery.
Homeowners are often worried about the way their homes will look with solar panels on them, which is a valid concern. Fortunately, new technology has made solar more visually appealing than ever. Soon, homeowners will have the option of choosing between different styles of solar roofs that look like regular shingles.
Alternatively, if you don’t want the solar panels at your home at all, there are currently companies that allow homeowners to utilize off-site solar panels for their home. This is ideal if your home isn’t in a position to receive much sunlight, or if you just don’t want to have to deal with the panels being on your property at all.
When considering solar, you also have the future to consider. Not just of the planet, but of your wallet. Solar is an investment. If you plan on paying off your solar panels within 10 years, you could end up with years of free electricity, which adds up.
Similarly, many solar programs offer a guarantee that your rates won’t go up or they will rise slower than standard utility companies. So, even if you can’t afford to buy your solar system outright, you can still invest in the long term.
Helping the economy
Fossil fuel defenders often claim the loss of jobs associated with the increase of the renewable energy industries. At the same time, jobs to manufacture, sell, install, and repair solar and wind power are skyrocketing.
Regardless of which option you choose, reducing your carbon footprint is doing your small part to help the environment for your children and grandchildren. And, it can save you a lot of money in the long run too.