When considering a green home remodeling project, think of the sun. Now is a perfect time to consider switching to a renewable energy source such as solar power. Many homeowners don’t consider solar because they think it too expensive, unreliable, or complicated. However, solar panels have improved greatly in the last 20 years. They are smaller, more efficient and reliable, less expensive, and easier to obtain.
Solar energy creates no pollution and it’s free. While solar panels themselves are not free, they’re a very effective long-term investment. A variety of local, federal and state tax credits and incentives can cut the expense by as much as 50 percent. If you generate more power than your home uses, you can try selling the extra power to your local utility. You can also rent your solar panels, reducing your initial cost, and letting you pay for the rental from energy savings.
Many homeowners erroneously believe that solar power will provide reduced power at certain times or will require expensive batteries. Solar systems can create power on cloudy days, although they generate more on sunny days. Because most solar panels are tied to the electrical grid, a process called net metering allows you to build up credit during the day – when your system is generating more power than you need – and draw on that credit at night. If your home is too isolated for a grid connection, you may want to consider a generator or a battery back up.
Before you sign on for solar there are a couple of considerations. First, check your utility bills; if they are already low for your area, solar panels might not be a good investment. Next, see how much sun hits your roof every day. If your roof is shaded for much of the day, you might not be a good candidate or you may need to trim some trees. Finally, see if your roof has a southern exposure. Other exposures work, but they may be somewhat less efficient or more expensive.
Good installers can evaluate your home’s potential for solar power and make estimates for costs. As with any green home improvement project, it pays to get bids from a number of contractors. Choose a company that is experienced and licensed.