Tapping into solar energy by installing solar panels on your home can decrease utility bills and increase energy efficiency.
Many home and property owners choose to go solar in hopes of cutting their electricity costs. While they may also enjoy the environmental benefits of clean energy, the money saving aspect of a solar electric system is hard to ignore. So, when solar panels produce free electricity, you might think that practicing more efficient ways of living is a non-issue when choosing solar power.
The truth is that solar power and energy efficiency go hand in hand. In fact, a home energy audit that can help you reduce energy waste in your home can also increase the benefit that solar power affords.
The first step toward solar power
The initial task in going solar is a solar analysis, where a qualified solar analyst will take a look at your roof and property, along with your energy bill. This is to get an idea of how much energy your household typically uses, which affects the system size needed, and is constrained by factors such as roof size and shading from trees or neighboring buildings.
Realted: 6 Common Types of Solar Panels
Some homeowners will find that the size of the system they can install on their roof will produce enough electricity to completely eliminate their electric bill. However, other people find that's not the case. These people have two options: increase the size of the solar panel system (may not be possible), or decrease the amount of electricity used.
Sources of wasted energy
It’s a common energy-saving myth that solar panels alone can save energy costs. Improperly sealed or inefficient windows could be contributing to the amount of energy wasted, just as old siding, a leaky roof, or gaps under doors could contribute to the problem. The fix could be replacing old appliances, moving furniture so that it does not block vents, or changing the habits of your household so that everyone remembers to turn off lights and electronics when they are not in use.
Solar financial benefits
Even homeowners who are already reaping the benefits of a low or non-existent electric bill can benefit from increased energy efficiency, because of SREC programs and incentives. SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) can be sold when a household produces more electricity than it uses, meaning that a solar powered home can actually earn money.
Samantha J. Majka writes for Solar Energy World, a Maryland-based solar energy company specializing in residential and commercial solar electric systems since 2009. Follow them on Twitter @solareworld.
As of July 9, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angi. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angi for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angi.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on November 16, 2012.
Have you purchased a solar panel system for your home or business? Tell us about it in the comments section below.