Running a home on renewable energy is a lot like starting a new fitness plan – you know it's the right thing to do and that you'll be all the better for doing it, but where do you even begin?
Residential solar energy systems are one of the most popular ways to bring clean, affordable power directly to your home. But smart homeowners interested in making the switch to solar will want to know exactly what they're getting into before they take the plunge. Do solar panels actually help families save money on their utility bills? What kind of an effect can one solar energy system really have on the environment? Learning a little extra information about how solar energy could help you make an informed decision on your household consumption.
"Installing a single solar system can have an uncanny effect on how energy use around your neck of the woods works."
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, two-thirds of all energy production in this country comes from fossil fuels. While low carbon-emitting resources like natural gas and energy efficiency initiatives have diminished our overall footprint, there's still a lot of work to be done.
By adding solar panels to your home, you reduce the amount of energy you draw from the grid. Your energy provider will then ask for less power from generators, who in turn won't burn as much fuel, thus cutting out unnecessary pollution. As we'll see later on, this trend can have an astounding impact on the community around you. Offsetting carbon emissions is one thing, but installing a single solar system can have an uncanny effect on how energy use in your neck of the woods works.
Saving the planet on a family budget
First things first, anyone who believes solar panels are outside their pay grade hasn't weighed all of their options. Apart from low-financing options for rentals through energy providers, homeowners or businesses looking to purchases their own systems can receive help from the government in a number of different ways.
Thirty percent of a solar panel purchase can be deducted from your income taxes thanks to the federal government's investment tax credit program now through the end of 2016. Additionally, the White House recently published a list of plans for new initiatives to spur solar adoption, like expanded lending options for low-income families investing in renewable energy technology as well as a broadening of solar capacity on governmentally subsidized property.
Even with all that aside, there's still the matter of solar's ever-dropping installation costs. The Solar Energy Information Administration reported the cost of purchasing a system has plummeted 73 percent since 2006, when the solar ITC program first came into action. Currently, by the organization's estimation, a new solar energy system is installed in the U.S. every two-and-a-half minutes. With so many people bringing solar energy into their lives, experts have noticed some interesting trends regarding energy use en masse.
The energy market at large
When families make a commitment to solar energy, they not only reduce the amount of energy providers and generators account for, but also cut down peak demand. During the times when electricity is used most often – usually during the early evening hours around sunset – energy rates are the highest because so many people depend on the grid, bumping up the price.
However, families supplying the grid with solar energy throughout the day not only reduce overall demand and trim rates for their neighbors, but until the sun sets entirely, they provide much-needed power during a crucial time of the day when the grid is the most vulnerable. In short, solar adoption even helps people who don't even use it! Talk to your energy provider about your solar energy options today and become a neighborhood hero.