Not all renewable energy is created equally, especially when it comes to your pocket book.
Many homeowners want to know the real secret to saving with renewable energy?
An overarching term, “renewable energy” is any energy that’s generated from natural
resources which are readily available like wind, sunlight, and rain.
Since they’re naturally replenished, there’s no risk of them “running out,” they’re
readily available, and ultimately the carbon footprint is much lighter than with
For years, solar energy has been a popular and desirable addition for homeowners—but how
much can you really save?
Laws vary state to state, with some states allowing homeowners to sell unused energy
“back to the grid” while others don’t.
Sunlight as a renewable energy is of course constantly replenished, but some regions get
more sun than others.
This is why solar energy is wildly popular in states like Texas, but not as much in states
Before considering any form of renewable energy, it’s important to differentiate it from
“Alternative” refers to an energy source that’s an alternative to fossil fuels.
Usually, alternative energies aren’t traditional and also have a light carbon footprint.
“Both renewable and alternative
energies are kinder to the environment,
but there are big differences between
their actual sources.”
How Much Will I Save?
Homeowners interested in using solar energy to power their homes should first analyze
their energy bill(s).
Experts are also available for “energy audits.”
You must make sure that any solar energy option you install will be enough to power your
home comfortably with enough buffer space for heavy usage months.
Not every home, family, and region is suited for renewable energy.
For instance, if you have multiple generations in your household and live in a cloudy state,
solar energy might not be the right fit for your home.
If solar energy does look like a good match for your needs, there are numerous options that
allow you to maximize your investment.
First, make sure your solar panels are configured and placed correctly.
“You must make sure that any solar
energy option you install will be enough
to power your home comfortably
with enough buffer space for
heavy usage months.”
In some cases, you might have to make compromises with your landscaping.
No matter how much you love that big, shady tree, if it’s keeping your solar panels from getting
maximum light, it might need to be severely trimmed or even removed.
With some solar panels, like silicon, being in shade doesn’t just mean you’re not getting renewable
energy in that section, but the renewable energy you harness can “leak” from the system as a whole.
Request a micro-inverter configuration when panels are being installed, which separates every
section and prevents this leakage.
Monitor how the system is mounted and opt for a multi-axis mount if possible.
If solar energy panels are “fixed,” just like a garden they’re only going to get maximum sunlight
for a short amount of time each day.
However, if multi-axis mounts aren’t available or within your budget, make sure to tile the fixed
mount to optimize sun exposure.
When you look at your energy bill or have an energy audit, you should get a blueprint of your
overall energy needs.
Decide how much of your energy should come from solar power.
The size of your solar energy solution is based on your needs, goals, energy audit, energy usage,
and where you live.
However, you also don’t want a solution that’s too big.
The PVWatts calculator can help you figure out what size system you need.
“The size of your solar energy
solution is based on your needs,
goals, energy audit, energy usage,
and where you live.”
Cleanliness is also paramount, since solar panels need clear access to sunlight to work.
If panels are covered with leaves, pine needles, dirt, or anything else, you won’t get as much
In most cases, panels have enough tilt to prevent such buildup.
However, if you live in an area such as a desert or coastal town, it’s common to find panels
struggling because of dust or sand buildup.
Keep them clean, and consider it another excuse to regularly clean out gutters at the same time.
It’s Not All About Electricity
By far, the most well-known solar energy home solution is using panels—but there’s a plethora
of additional options.
Solar water heaters are also gaining interest, especially for homes where long showers and
frequent dishwasher or washing machine usage takes place.
You’ll find a variety of water system solutions, but the two most common are direct and indirect
Direct systems are a great choice in areas where freezing isn’t a problem, but indirect systems
utilize a fluid that can’t freeze via a heat exchanger.
Homeowners are also adding solar-powered accessories to their home, from phone chargers to
flashlights and even backpacks for commuting.
Leave your calculator or travel radio charging on a windowsill, and you’ll be buying fewer batteries,
reducing the risk of improper battery disposal, and you’ll always have your solar-charged items
ready and waiting for use.
“Beyond issues like lack of sunlight and
up-front cost, not all homeowners
are in a position to make
solar energy worthwhile.”
Why Isn’t Everyone Doing Solar?
Beyond issues like lack of sunlight and up-front cost, not all homeowners are in a position to
make solar energy worthwhile.
In some cases, it may take years before a homeowner “breaks even” with their solar energy
Plus, it can simply be daunting to pay a relatively high up-front cost only to see seemingly
Like any investment, it takes a lot of education and research before making this purchase.
Sometimes homeowners aren’t sure they’ll be in a home long enough to benefit from
“Frequent job changes, plans to move,
or simply not wanting to be tethered
to a home due to energy resources
are all viable reasons
to not go solar.”
Humans, by nature, also resist change.
Many times energy bills are automated and homeowners get used to that monthly utility bill.
Of course it would be fantastic to lower it, but after a lifetime of accepting “regular” energy costs,
solar can be a tough sell.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the sunniest states that are most commonly adopting solar energy.
When you have such a present and free energy source available, you’re reminded constantly
of whether it’s benefiting you or not.
Is solar energy the right choice for you?
Start your research today!
About the Author
Originally from Pittsburgh, Trevor now lives in sunny San Diego and works as a freelance writer. In his free time, you can find him enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.
Have you considered converting to solar energy?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.