Before I got solar energy, my life was a nightmare. Every time I got my home electric bill, I simply threw it onto my desk and left it there till the last possible payment date. I swear on some months moss actually grew on that envelope before I finally gathered the courage to see what the damage was. When the time came to open the bill, I would make coffee, take deep breaths and flinch because the cost of electricity became higher and higher with every passing month!
On top of that, I kept hearing and listening to all those warnings about how we are consuming the world’s natural resources. They are even planning on sending a few people to live on Mars to see if they could create a life sustaining environment for future generations to live in. I remember looking out the window, over all the gorgeous trees and over my flower and veggie garden and thinking how tragic it must be for our grandkids to have to give up this wondrous world. It was then and there that I decided to start making a difference in my families living costs and start saving the world’s resources by converting to solar power for home.
What exactly is solar energy and solar power?
I knew that switching to a home solar power system wouldn’t come easy since I knew absolutely nothing about electricity or solar energy and power. So I started right at the beginning and I am now sharing my information with you so you can perhaps transform your home and save money on electricity bills when you decide to go green.
Solar energy and power are free sources from the sun. The sun is the one power source that can never be drained and its power can never corrupt the world, accept for when it comes to global heating, of course.
So what is solar energy?
Solar energy refers to technology that converts the heat and UV rays from the sun and converts it into energy. This includes devices such as water heating, space heating and cooling, industrial process heat and also solar daylight and passive solar that is used to heat or cool buildings due to a special design.
What is solar power?
If you are talking about solar power then you are referring to the sun’s rays (photons) that are harvested to create electricity for various devices.
So basically solar energy is not electricity and you cannot start up your computer on it but can use it for certain elements of your home such as water heating. Solar power is what you need if you want to power electric devices in your home.
A few fun solar power facts
With all that researching, transforming my home seemed a bit confusing so I gathered up a few fun solar panel facts for extra encouragement and here they are.
- If the amount of solar energy absorbed by the world is calculated it adds up to 3 850 000 EJ per year. This is 40 000 times the total energy consumption of the United States and 8000 times the total consumption of the world!
- Solar energy is green with the exception of the manufacturing and disposal of solar panels but it is still a much more environmental friendly approach than most common energy methods.
- NASA even created solar energy aircrafts
- Astrophysics determined that the sun is dying! The sun was born about 4.57 billion years ago and has 6 – 7 billion years to go.
- Sunlight takes only ten minutes to travel 90 million miles and is a completely free energy source.
- Solar technology is available in active and passive forms. Passive solar energy involves designing rooms to use the sunlight for heating or cooling and the implementation of windows to provide natural light. Active solar energy is power that is harnessed by solar panels to power electric devices.
- You can actually cook food in the sun
- Solar chemical processes can make solar energy storeable and transportable.
- In 1970 there was a massive oil crisis that basically caused the birth of renewable solar energy because people finally realized how important our world’s fossil fuels are.
- Solar energy does not pollute the earth
- Space ships from various countries are powered by solar energy
The ups and downs of solar energy
Before you decide to transform your home entirely, there are a few things you should know about the ups and downs of renewable energy. Here are the top solar power pros and cons;
- Solar energy is indefinite. You are guaranteed to never run out of energy and once your home is transformed, you will never experience blackouts unless there is something wrong with your gear
- You don’t have to have tons of solar panels if you use the right solar system. Skylights, solar geysers and a good home design can save a lot of energy naturally so you will need less solar power
- Solar panels requires only little maintenance and the maintenance costs are low
- Solar panels are expensive to install but once they are up and running, you will be saving a lot of money
- Solar panel technology is constantly being advanced where the general energy productive methods stay basically the same
- Transforming to solar energy can be expensive
- Bad weather can affect your solar system because if it is cloudy for too long, your energy will run out and batteries will struggle to charge
- To store the energy is expensive because you need large batteries that you can charge during the day
- Solar panels take up a lot of space and some roofs are not solar panel friendly
- The solar systems pollute far less than any other energy method but the creating and disposal of the panels do pollute the air and world.
The uses of solar energy
I switched to solar energy because it makes me feel much better to know that I am leaving a much smaller carbon footprint on the world and my electric bill is so much lower. Here are just a few household methods on what solar energy is used for.
Lighting – Skylights look fantastic in homes and can provide you with effective lighting. At night your battery backs can be used along with LED lights to provide you with the needed light throughout the night.
Warm water – No one likes to bathe in cold water in the winter. A solar geyser is fitted with a heat protective tank. Once the hot water is heated by the rays of the sun, the water will then be circulated through the tank that is specially created to maintain water temperatures.
Electricity – You can still run your television set, computer and other electric devices on solar energy that you have captured in battery packs. The solar panels will maintain consistent energy during the day and the battery packs will give you a backup for night time.
Heat and cool homes – If you are building your home from scratch then you can get your home designed to be energy efficient. The right home design can give you a cool home in the summer and a warmer home in the winter with just the sun’s energy.
Fridges and freezers – These are usually your biggest problem when it comes to transferring to solar energy because solar or gas fridges and freezers are incredibly expensive. But on the other side, it is worth the investment because you will eventually be saving a lot of money.
Kettle – An electric kettle is a big NO when it comes to solar power because the element consumes too much energy to get the water warm. For all your coffee needs, you will have to transfer to gas.
Food – The sun can cook your food but it is basically fruitless if you come after dark. The best way to prepare food without the use of electricity is to invest in a gas stove.
Who can benefit from solar energy?
If you are wondering if you are suitable for solar energy then the answer is probably yes. Most people enjoy solar energy and have just about the same benefits as they would have had with normal electricity if the solar system is managed correctly.
Elderly – Pensioners simply don’t have the money to cover expensive electric bills but they can live full lives with a solar system because the maintenance on solar systems is low and affordable.
Home owners – With the right idea in mind, you can be completely independent from electricity and you don’t have to resolve to primitive techniques. You can still enjoy your Wi-Fi, home entertainment system and all your home computers but you will have to ensure that you have the right battery and solar system in place.
Factories – Some factories can actually cope with only solar energy because the sun’s energy can be harnessed for food production and if your electrical needs are minimal; your factory can be fully sustainable if you have the right systems in place.
Students – Students can study effectively at night times with their LED systems and with a portable charger they can recharge phones and laptops wherever they go which is actually a great plus for students who travel a lot or like to go on camping and other trips.
As said before, solar panels can save a lot of money but getting your systems up and running are terribly expensive. However most home solar panel installations will quickly add up to only a few year’s electric bills.
The future of solar power
You don’t have to worry about finding replacement parts for your solar systems because solar power is the one power source that is constantly being researched and improved. The future of solar energy is quite bright because more and more governments and countries are starting to inform and encourage the public to switch to solar systems and some places are even doing their best to get people started financially. In just a few years of research, solar panels have been transformed from the standard solar panels to a wide range of different panels some of which are flexible enough to be rolled out on rooftops. Modern solar panels are also much more effective at absorbing the sun’s rays and more and more alternatives are created to harness solar energy to fuel businesses and homes.
Earn Tax discounts on your solar systems!
The EPA and the Department of Energy are doing everything in their power to encourage Americans to switch to solar power systems. If you can switch to a star approved solar power system before the end of 2016, you can claim 30% of the cost for tax credit for the year the system was installed which means that solar energy tax credit can help you save up to 30% on your installation costs. The amount can be taken directly from your tax payment instead as a deduction from your taxable income. The only downside is that you can’t claim solar tax for rental properties but it is still a perfect solution for your home.
Every home and person is different and have different energy needs to run a household effectively. On top of that, learning to live with solar power is quite tricky since you have to learn to manage your resources and monitor your power usage or you might end up draining your batteries much too soon. You also need the right systems and the right stove replacements to be completely independent from electricity. So is solar power worth it? Well, it is quite the journey but it is definitely worth the investment if you consider that you are saving money and you are helping the world a bit. To find the best solution for your home, you will have to enquire from a professional solar power provider and installer because they will have to do a personal assessment of your needs and will then provide you with the right system for your home. The systems also need to be installed by a professional if you don’t want to end up with a burnt out inverter or solar panel.