Saving on energy costs has become a necessity as utility prices have sky-rocketed. We used to poke good natured fun at our parents when we were growing up as they complained about how we would leave lights on in a room which wasn’t occupied, or if we would dare to jack-up the thermostat beyond seventy degrees in the winter. They came from an era when thriftiness was a way of life, as they had to live through the depression and make every penny count. Well, it looks as if they were right, as once again we are taking energy efficiency very seriously, as well we should. Washington should have been on top of lessening our dependence on foreign oil these past fifty years, but that’s a topic for another article.
What I’ve been seeing more and more of as of late are solar panels going up on roofs in residential areas, so I decided to look into a solar electric system for my home. I started by speaking with a neighbor who had a solar electric system installed, and he had only positive things to say about it. He claims to have zeroed out his electric bill, and he also supplements his oil hot water heating system with some electric space heaters in the winter. With what is termed “net-metering”, he sells back to the electric utility company any excess power he generates when it’s very sunny and he’s producing more electricity than he needs, and this off-sets times when the sun isn’t out and he has to purchase power from the utility company. You can also buy a system which employs batteries to store energy to be used when the sun isn’t out, but this costs more, and requires more space to store batteries. I prefer the grid tied system.
These solar systems are also subsidized by most utility companies, which helps to reduce the cost, and the government also offers tax incentives, which can save you even more money on the initial cost of the system. These systems are expensive, but there are ways of financing the cost, and the monthly payment on the loan can often come to less than you would be paying monthly to your utility company for electric. Also, these poly-voltaic solar systems are exempted from adding to property tax bills, and they will add value to your home when you decide to sell.
I think that with time the cost of going solar will become more affordable for more of us, and turning your house into a solar powered home is a viable option as a way of saving energy.