6 Reasons Why Solar Energy Makes Sense for Your Home (2023)

Here Comes the Sun: Home Energy Independence

Today environmental consciousness is becoming more of a priority in residential architecture and design, as consumers realize the seriousness of climate change in our world. Extreme weather conditions such as the recent frigid winter in the Midwestern part of the United States, water shortages due to a drought on the West coast, and increased weather events such as tornadoes and hurricanes are causing concern. These facts combined with rising costs for warming and cooling our homes has spurred engineers, architects, and builders to explore the bestmethods for generating electricity as well as incorporating natural cooling and heating. The economic motivation for solar electricity and passive design and engineering is becoming more significant.

Solar Electricity

Each year more and more homeowners are entertaining the idea of making the switch to solar energy for their homes, with many even making it a must-have requirement for new homes. Thanks to many advancements in solar technology and new government financial programs, solar electric power has never been more inviting to homeowners. In fact, for many homeowners now is a great time to consider making the switch or incorporating solar energy into an existing or new home.

Here’s everything you need to know about solar energy to help you understand why it makes sense and determine what are the best options for you.

Stunning tall windows allow plenty of natural sunlight inside this 2-story, 3-bedroom contemporary style vacation home, but it’s the large expanse of roof structure (facing the correct direction) that makes this a good candidate for solar electric panels (Plan #158-1255).

But First: What Exactly is Home Solar Electric Power?

Simply put, solar electric energy systems allow you to install special panels that gather sunlight (in the form of tiny particles called photons) and convert them to electrical energy so that you can power your home. The panels collect the sunlight during the day, powering your home immediately and sending the excess power either to batteries stored at the home or sending it back into the power grid as part of an exchange program with local utilities. Many homes are being built with passive solar energy systems already installed, though the process of adding these panels to an existing home is relatively straightforward.

What are the Benefits ofSwitching to Solar Power?

There is a plethora of benefits you can experience by switching to solar energy, including:

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1. Major Financial Savings

Installing solar panels in your home can save you thousands of dollars on your energy bills in the long run, often through net metering. Here, excess energy is fed back into the power grid so that you can receive a credit from your local utilities for essentially “selling” the power to them.

2. Great for the Environment

Solar energy is one of the cleanest and least damaging sources of energy available, as it results in little to no pollution and causes virtually no harm to the environment.

3. Sustainable and Renewable

As the power comes from the sun and not any finite natural resources (such as coal or oil), there is no worry about depleting the energy source. This also means that there is no fear ofunexpected price increases or shortages.

Why This May Be the Perfect Time to Switch to Solar Electric

After learning about some of the benefits of solar energy, you’ve probably got more than a few questions about the practical aspects of installing solar panels in your home. The fact of the matter is that there has never been a better time to switch to solar energy than now, thanks to some significant improvements across the board.

6 Reasons Why Solar Energy Makes Sense for Your Home (2)

Eye-catching and energy-efficient: A 1-story home in Sacramento, California, is not just an amazing sight, it also makes a statement with its use of solar energy. In addition to the solar panels that capture sunlight, the house features lots of glass windows that allow natural light into the home (photo credit: Gus Ruballo on Unsplash).

4. Major Advancements in the Technology

Solar panels are now more efficient and resilient than previous models, meaning that you can collect more sunlight to create more energy with less effort. Today’s solar panels are also much stronger than older models, meaning you will only need to clean them a few times a year and aren’t going to have to worry about much maintenance. The size of panels for a given power output is also decreasing, making them more feasible for smaller homes that have less available roof space.

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6 Reasons Why Solar Energy Makes Sense for Your Home (3)

The multi-tiered rooflines of this beautifully quaint two-story homestill allows enough room for strategically placed solar panels (photo credit: Riley McNeal on Unsplash).

5. Large Network of Retailers and Professional Installers

Even as recently as a few years ago, if you wanted to install solar panels in your home you would have to track down a specialty company and pay them a premium to even conduct a home inspection. Now, many of the major home-improvement chains offer in-store experts that are ready and willing to walk you through the entire process at your convenience. These retailers can not only help you purchase panels and all the necessary equipment for an installation, but help you connect with licensed solar power experts who can complete the process for you.

6. Government Subsidies and Programs Available to You

In case you were afraid that converting your home to solar energy was too expensive, there are dozens of programs in place nationwide to help reduce the upfront costs. Some states also offer special subsidies to help you save on the entire process, while others offer special loans specifically designed to help you purchase solar panels. You can find more details about your state’s policies through the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency website.

What Are the Installation Requirements?

Even with all of the benefits of solar energy there are still a few important requirements that your home must meet before you can install a home solar electric system.

6 Reasons Why Solar Energy Makes Sense for Your Home (4)

Photovoltaic panels can go on any roof, even tile roofs like this one. Just make sure the panels face primarily in a southerly direction for maximum solar exposure - like this cabin in the deep in the countryside (photo credit: Alex Bierwagen on Unsplash).

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• Available Solar Resource at Your Home

Because your home is going to draw its energy from the sun, you must make sure that you have a large, unobstructed view of the sun for the majority of the day. Roofs blocked or covered by large trees – or homes in areas that are overcast and cloudy for much of the year – may not be able to receive enough light to actually generate the necessary power for your home.

• Check for Local Permits and Restrictions

As with any home-improvement project, you will also need to apply for and receive the appropriate permits for installing solar panels. This may include passing a building inspection to ensure that your electrical system can sustain power from solar energy or ensuring that you live in an area that can connect solar panels to the local power grid.

• Appropriate Home Size for Panels

Along with having enough access to sunlight, your home needs to be big enough for the solar panels to fit on the roof safely. Small homes may not have enough open roof space for solar panels, or they might not be able to withstand the weight of the panels. The ideal homes have large areas of open roofing that is not broken up by gables or dormers, such as ranch style houses. While it may be possible to make modifications to your home to qualify for solar panels, these changes can end up costing more than you would potentially save in the long run.

Welcome, solar energy: The roof of this 3-bedroom, 2-bathRanch stylehome plan has the perfect open space for solar panels to fit safely (Plan #176-1012).

Other Strategies: PassiveSolar

What is now known as thePassive House Standardis an environmentally friendly concept that was originally developed by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, a German physicist, who are credited with building the first passive house in Germany in 1990.

In the United States, the first accredited passive house is located just outside of Salt Lake City.The Breezeway Houseis a 2,800 sq. foot modern, three bedroom house built with solar passive design that provides about 75 percent of the home’s energy requirements. This includes super tight insulation, a solar system on the roof and natural, “non-mechanical” ventilation.

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Passive solar buildinghouse designs feature walls, floors, and windows that are made to collect, store and distribute solar energy – rejecting heat in the summer and distributing solar energy in the form of heat during colder winter months. Passive solar design is also known as climatic and does not the use any electrical or mechanical devices.

One of the keys to passive solar architecture is for the architect to effectively design by taking advantage of the local climate. Design elements such as window placement and the type of glazing used; shaded ventilation, and enabling the movement of air and water.

Passive cooling, in conjunction with architecture, refers to a naturally cooled building that does not use any energy-consuming technology or devices – no air conditioners - for maintaining a comfortable inside temperature. Some of the more common ways to passively cool a house include using ventilation from natural breezes, sheltering from the sun, and the implementation of a water source, all of which help cool the air and loser the temperature.

Talk to a Pro

Consumers who are interested in building their new home with passive solar design techniques should consult an architect, because it can typically be applied most new structures, and many existing homes can be adapted or "retrofitted" for passive solar design. Builders use tools like thermography and digital thermal imaging cameras for an energy audit of a home, charting architectural areas of poor thermal performance during warm or cold weather. Another tool often used by architects is called a heliodon, which is a traditional movable light device helping to model the effects of sun pathways.

Passive solar energy designs feature house plans that are built with carefully arranged rooms situating any living areas facing solar noon, while bedrooms are placed on the opposite side of the home.

3D Printing Can HelpYour Solar Design

Now 3D computer graphics are capable of visually stimulating this type of information and data so as to be able to calculate performance predictions.

The Plan Collection has introduced its new3D Printingof house plans, enabling customers to print out a physical 3D home model. The 3D printing technology uses software files to effectively convert computer-aided-design (CAD) blueprints into an actual physical model of a home. This process allows home builders and owners to get physical 360-degree views of their house plan from both external and internal perspectives and offers better details of the actual home than renderings or blueprint images.

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Customers can locate a floor plan package, and then order a 3D file, ready for printing, which they would take to a local printer. Home builders can use 3D printing to print out a 3D model of thehouse plans.

The advances in technology – plus the lower costs today – make now a great time to look into solar energy for your home. Have you added solar electric power, heating, or passive cooling to your home already? We’d love to hear about your experience!

Footnote: The lead image in this article is shows workers installing solar panels on the roof of a home (photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy, Public Domain).

FAQs

What are 3 good things about solar energy? ›

Pros of Solar Energy
  • Solar is a proven technology. ...
  • Solar works in many climates. ...
  • Solar is more affordable than ever. ...
  • Solar energy benefits the whole electricity grid. ...
  • Solar panels have a long lifespan. ...
  • Solar panels can increase home values.

What are 4 benefits of solar power explain? ›

Renewable clean power that is available every day of the year, even cloudy days produce some power. Return on investment unlike paying for utility bills. Virtually no maintenance as solar panels last over 30 years. Creates jobs by employing solar panel manufacturers, solar installers, etc.

What are 5 Advantages and disadvantages of solar? ›

Advantages & Disadvantages of Solar Energy – 7 Pros and Cons
Advantages of Solar EnergyDisadvantages of Solar Energy
Reduces Electricity BillsHigh Initial Costs
Provides Tax IncentivesTime Consuming
Pairs with Solar Battery StorageWeather Dependent
Environmentally FriendlyStringent Criteria
23 Sept 2021

What are the eight benefits of solar? ›

8 Benefits of Distributed Solar that Prove it's Worth More than Dollars and Cents
  • Reduced waste. ...
  • Lower cost. ...
  • Less risk. ...
  • Stronger grid. ...
  • Clean electricity. ...
  • Reduced greenhouse gases. ...
  • Improved public health. ...
  • Economic growth.
11 Mar 2016

Why do we need solar? ›

The sun is a free, sustainable, clean resource we can leverage in place of conventional electricity to power our lives. Solar energy can be used to provide heat, light, and other electricity-dependent needs in homes and buildings.

Is solar good for home? ›

Homeowners who install solar power systems can receive numerous benefits: lower electric bills, lower carbon footprints, and potentially higher home values. But these benefits typically come with significant installation and maintenance costs and the magnitude of the gains can vary widely from one house to another.

What are the benefits of solar panels on homes? ›

The top advantages of solar energy are that it reduces electricity bills, increases the value of your home, cuts back on carbon emissions, protects against rising electricity costs, and it helps you earn money back on your investment.

What are 2 uses of solar energy? ›

Solar energy is commonly used for solar water heaters and house heating. The heat from solar ponds enables the production of chemicals, food, textiles, warm greenhouses, swimming pools, and livestock buildings. Cooking and providing a power source for electronic devices can also be achieved by using solar energy.

How does solar energy benefit humans? ›

As a renewable source of power, solar energy has an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change, which is critical to protecting humans, wildlife, and ecosystems. Solar energy can also improve air quality and reduce water use from energy production.

What are 3 pros and cons of solar energy? ›

Main solar energy pros and cons
Pros of solar energyCons of solar energy
Reduces electric billHigh upfront cost
Insurance against rising power pricesIntermittent energy source
Solar is cheaper than everManufacturing panels has some impact on the environment
See a return on your investmentRequires space
2 more rows
31 Aug 2022

Why is solar energy better for the future? ›

Limitless solar energy

The sun provides more than enough energy to meet the whole world's energy needs, and unlike fossil fuels, it won't run out anytime soon. As a renewable energy source, the only limitation of solar power is our ability to turn it into electricity in an efficient and cost-effective way.

What are the advantages of solar energy Class 7? ›

Advantages of solar energy are:

Renewable: There is ample energy available on earth as long as the sun exists. Reliable: The energy can be stored in the batteries, so there is no unreliability. reduction in utility costs. Free energy because it can be trapped easily.

What are the 4 main types of solar energy? ›

Passive solar gain. Solar thermal (for heating) Concentrated solar power (for electricity) Solar Photovoltaics (electricity)

Where is solar energy most useful? ›

Key takeaways. China uses the most solar power globally, generating over 224 GWh of electricity using just solar, with a projected 370 kWh of installed solar by 2024.

What are the 2 main disadvantages to solar energy? ›

Installing solar does come with some disadvantages, such as high upfront costs, they require a lot of space, and you can't take them with you if you decide to move. Overall, installing solar panels is a great investment for homeowners.

What are the 2 advantages and 2 limitations of solar energy? ›

The energy generated by the sun throughout the manner of heat as well as light energy. Advantages: Solar energy somehow does not pollute the environment. It is possible to generate power using solar energy sometimes in distant as well as unreachable regions.

What are 10 advantages of wind energy? ›

All the benefits of wind power
  • Wind is almost everywhere. ...
  • Wind power is excellent in remote areas, wherever they may be. ...
  • Wind is consistent in the medium and long-term. ...
  • Excellent conversion efficiency. ...
  • Wind power occupies very little land. ...
  • The environmental impact is minimal. ...
  • A green source that is truly economical.

How is solar useful to us? ›

Solar panels are a great way to offset energy costs, reduce the environmental impact of your home and provide a host of other benefits, such as supporting local businesses and contributing to energy independence.

Is solar energy safe? ›

Electricity from solar panels and transmission to the power grid emits extremely weak electromagnetic fields. Exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields has been studied extensively, and there is no evidence that it is harmful to human health, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Is solar power for home worth it? ›

If you live in an area with high energy rates and a suitable solar rating, and if you can afford the initial investment, it's worth installing solar panels on your home while the 30% tax break is in place — for the good of the environment and your wallet. But don't expect to eliminate your power bill overnight.

How much is solar system for home? ›

According to Gauteng-based solar power specialist company, NexSolar, the cost of solar power installation can range from around R63 000 to R200 000, depending on the size of the house and electrical output requirements.

Why solar energy is important for future? ›

Solar energy - a clean source

No greenhouse gas emissions are released into the atmosphere when you use solar panels to create electricity. And because the sun provides more energy than we'll ever need, electricity from solar power is a very important energy source in the move to clean energy production.

How much do solar panels save? ›

To calculate the savings we subtract the cost of the solar system installation from the projected cost of 30 years of electricity if bought from the utility company. How much do you save with solar panels? You will save an estimated $17,700 in savings over the lifetime of the solar panel array.

What is meant by solar energy? ›

Solar energy is any type of energy generated by the sun. Solar energy is created by nuclear fusion that takes place in the sun. Fusion occurs when protons of hydrogen atoms violently collide in the sun's core and fuse to create a helium atom.

What are 5 uses of wind energy? ›

Uses of wind energy
  • generating electricity.
  • milling grain.
  • pumping water.
  • powering cargo ships (via kites)
  • reducing carbon footprint.
  • sailing.
  • windsurfing.
  • land surfing.

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