With fuel prices soaring, the need to invest in green technology solutions to our energy needs is greater than ever. Solar power has traditionally been an expensive option, but during the last twenty years the price of solar panels has fallen dramatically, putting them within the budget of many home owners. This article discusses the costs and benefits of installing solar panels on the roof of your property and tackles the question of whether it is worth it.
Solar panels use the photovoltaic effect to turn sunlight into electricity. Packets of light, known as photons, collide with silicon atoms in the solar panel to knock out electrons, which then flow as electrical current. Unlike methods of electricity generation that involve burning fossil fuels such as coal or oil, the photovoltaic effect does not release any harmful or polluting gases into the atmosphere.
The environmental benefits of solar power, particularly in terms of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, have led many governments to introduce schemes to reward those who install solar panels in their homes. Many countries, including the UK, Australia and South Africa, as well as several US states, offer a “feed-in tariff” for domestic solar energy producers. In simple terms, this is a scheme in which solar panel owners can sell electricity that they produce but do not use back to the grid, often for a high price. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the price per unit that UK home owners receive for their excess solar energy can be as much as 4 times the typical price of electricity purchased from the energy companies.
The feed-in tariff is applied automatically once the solar panel has been wired into the house’s electricity supply and the energy supplier has been notified. In order to qualify for a feed-in tariff, the solar panel must be supplied and installed by an approved company. Anyone who is considering generating solar energy should check with the relevant government body to make sure that their installation meets all of the requirements.
When domestic solar panels first came onto the market in the 1970s, only the super-rich could afford them. However, improvements in the efficiency of solar technology and developments in the manufacturing process have caused prices to plummet. In 2010, the cost of setting up a solar energy generation system in a typical home was around $30,000. In some areas there are subsidies available that will cover part of the cost. Although the upfront cost of solar panels is still a significant amount of money, it is offset by the financial benefits that solar power can offer.
It usually takes between five and ten years for a solar panel system to pay for itself, depending on the price of the panels and the installation, the energy use of the household and the level of the feed-in tariff. Solar panels are durable and usually continue working at full capacity for decades, potentially making a large profit for their owners in the long term.
Although solar panels are a good long-term investment, the upfront cost of installation is a barrier for many people. So, how can home owners finance solar panel installation? Using savings to pay for the panels upfront is generally the cheapest option, but there are also several financing options that are worth considering if you cannot afford to pay outright.
There are also various other incentives such as federal tax credits as well as other state incentives that drastically reduce the overall cost of your solar or wind powered renewable energy system.
In conclusion, DIY solar power and wind power IS in fact a very worthwhile investment. If you are considering renewable energy for your home or place of business then now is the time to get on board and take advantage of the various incentives that are offered. It is a good feeling knowing that you are using the free energy from the sun and wind to provide your power needs for many years to come.
Remember, you can always start out small, and add to your system over time. An investment now will pay big dividends in the long run.
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