According to Green Tech Media (GTM) research, the U.S. is now installing one photovoltaic system every four minutes. Seeing as solar energy is a renewable resource that emits little to no global warming emissions, this is a massive step in the right direction in efforts to protect our planet and reduce greenhouse gases.
If you’ve already enlisted in the solar energy crusade or are thinking about making an investment in the near future, it’s important to do your research and evaluate how to get the most use out of your solar power system. Ensuring that your system is performing at its max is not only important to meet your electricity needs, but also to recover your upfront costs in the shortest amount of time.
Evaluate Your Usage
To optimize usage, you first need to evaluate how you and your family currently use electricity in the home. One way to do this is by having a professional come out and conduct a home energy audit.
During this process, an expert will come to your home and evaluate how efficiently energy is currently being used, as well as suggest methods for improvement. Inspections should be thorough and review the entire structure, from top to basement. The auditor should check things such as your duct blasts, HVAC system, doors, and windows. These tests will reveal problem areas and ways to improve so you don’t end up wasting the valuable solar electricity you’ll be generating.
By figuring out how much energy you currently use, you’ll also be able to better determine the size of solar system you’ll need.
Energy evaluation can help you start thinking differently about certain routines. If you want to get the most of your solar power system and offset your energy costs, start planning ahead by using big appliances during the day when your solar system is operating at its maximum capacity.
Other good practices include setting some appliances to run on timers, replacing old machines with more efficient ones, and staggering usage so you’re not running everything at once. This will take some coordination throughout your household, but giving everyone some ownership toward your energy conservation goals can be a rewarding activity and good practice for working together.
Solar technology has become increasingly price competitive in the past few years, making it much more affordable for homeowners to either buy systems out-right, or acquire loans for the project.
If you’ve just begun the home solar process and are looking to compare prices from local installers in your area, try using a trusted solar power marketplace to receive a number of quotes and find a solution that works best for your solar energy project. It’s the quickest way to be able to compare prices and services from companies that are experienced with your solar local programs.
Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions of solar installer candidates, including their experience connecting customers to the utility grid, knowledge of state incentives, and maintenance programs offered.
If you’re connected to the utility grid, you can always draw upon it at night and other times your system isn’t producing the most electricity. But to cut this cost, or if you’re completely off the grid, solar storage is a great way to offset any energy shortages.
The costs of home energy storage components are starting to fall, making it a more viable option for home solar users. Many states also have beneficial net-metering programs that allow solar generators to return energy to the utility grid and get compensated for it. Rates vary by state, but it’s a great way to get the most from the energy produced and start seeing a return on that investment.
Your panels shouldn’t require much maintenance or cleaning, but it’s a good idea to give them a light cleaning every six months or so. This will help make sure that they’re receiving as much light as possible since any collected dust or dirt will just reflect the light and reduce efficiency.
Pay attention to any excessive shading on your panels from nearby greenery, as you may need to alter your landscaping. It’s also important to prevent any branches or an accumulation of leaves falling from on your panels, which can lead to damage.
By getting the best price on your solar system, watching and reducing your energy costs, and selling back your excess power, you can be sure that you’re getting the most out of your home solar system and feel good about generating clean energy.
Sarah Kezer is passionate about helping others take advantage of the power of solar energy. At 123SolarPower, Sarah assists in answering questions and providing expert information for users to explore their options when it comes to going solar. 123SolarPower connects individuals with the largest network of solar power providers in the U.S. Read all of Sarah's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.