Thursday, June 21, 2012

Paneling Up: Making The Switch to Solar

(Photo from Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon)
Switching to solar power doesn't have to require a second mortgage and a team of workers on your roof. Advances in solar technology now make it possible to take baby steps, switching a portion of your house's energy usage over to solar. In this article, we delve into the latest advances in the solar industry, explaining how these can be applied in your own home.

The first thing you want to do when consider solar technology in your home is to check the incentives. There are various websites that will give you regional incentive summaries. One great site for this is, which breaks down the rebates and incentives for solar power, state by state.

The following thing you should consider is the number of years you will be in your home, the affordability of traditional electricity in your state, and does your home even receive enough sunlight?
Solar panels only make sense if you plan to stay in your home for an extended number of years. When you move, you can't simply pickup your panels and throw them in the back of a U-haul. It's only a reasonable option if you don't plan on moving for the next 10-15 years. It's also worth noting that the upfront costs for a solar panel system can be expensive, and that's why you should be in your home for a long time for those upfront costs to pay for themselves.

Also, if you live in a state where traditional electricity is very affordable, solar may not even save you much money and it may ultimately not be worth it. Places with high costs make the most sense for solar like Hawaii, where electricity costs are through the roof.

And not all homes and parts of the country are created equal. You want a lot of roof space, you want that roof to be pointing towards the sun, and you want to live in a very sunny area of the country. Solar panels in the upper northwest of America – which receives much rain, may not make the most sense. Nor do densely wooded areas. You can get a solar panel installer to come to your home and give you a report on the viability of solar paneling for your home.

Lastly, you can get into the solar panel game slowly. Panels can be easily expanded so you can start small before ultimately working your way off the grid. There are a lot of DIY resources online that will give you tips and tricks like what to buy and where to buy. A good first hand knowledgebase is YouTube. People love showing off their customized solar panel systems. Solar panels can start as a pet-project and advance into a new way of living. There is nothing more fulfilling than saving money and going green! What are you waiting for?

About the Author
Bahram Nasehi is a Vice President and partner at Dulles Glass and Mirror. He is instrumental in the development and manufacturing of commercial and residential glass products including tempered glass, glass table tops and shower doors.

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