Solar Power 101

Solar Powered Home


Solar Power options for your home.

So you’re interested in using the sun for home power. How do you do it? There are three ways to introduce solar power into your home:

1) Solar Electricity – You can use solar power to generate electricity for your home. This is probably the first thing that people think about when they think about solar power. In a nutshell, you simply calculate your average daily electrical load and install enough Solar Power Panels on your roof to supply that amount of power. These Power Panels contain Photovoltaic (PV) cells that generate electricity when the sun shines on them.

More information on how the PV panels work are discussed on my solar electric power page. These PV-based systems can be expensive, with the typical installation cost for a system ranging from around $15,000 to about $30,000. Depending on how much capacity and options like batteries you want to install, the cost can go quite a bit higher. A well sized solar PV system can reduce your electric bill immediately by 20% – 90%! Depending on your electric bill, a typical payback period for the installation of a Solar electric system is about ten years.

You can get an “immediate” payback on your system by wrapping the cost of installation into your mortgage when you buy or refinance your home by using a so-called “Green Mortgage”. A Green Mortgage is a federally approved program that allows you to pay for energy improvements easily, through your mortgage. Your lender can increase your loan to cover energy improvement costs. Monthly mortgage payments increase slightly, but you actually save money because your energy bills will be lower than the increase in your mortgage payment!

2) Solar Water Heating – The second way you can use retrofit your home for solar power is by installing a Solar Water Heating (SWH) system. You may not know that Hot Water Heating accounts for 25% – 30% of the average US household’s energy usage. These systems are less expensive to install than a Solar Electric system with the typical system costing only $3,000 – $5,000. This can be included in a “Green Mortgage” as well allowing for an immediate payback of your investment. Solar Hot Water systems can reduce your hot water heating bill by 75% – 95%, possibly saving you hundreds of dollars per year.

3) Solar Pool Heaters & Solar Spa Heaters – Finally, if you have a pool or spa, you can install a solar heating system. These systems usually cost around $3,000 – $6,000 and they can effectively double your effective pool use season. Most people either do not have a pool heater installed or simply don’t use it because of the cost. Installing a solar heater is not a necessity, but can environmentally enhance your pool experience

Well, there you have it. Installing one of these three methods can go a long way towards lowering your monthly bills while increasing our energy independence and fighting global warming. It makes sense, especially if you pay for the installation of these systems with a “Green Mortgage”. Why not use sunshine to power your home, heat your water and save you money. It is free, environmentally friendly and just makes sense.

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