Save on utility costs with solar panels

Harnessing energy from the sun to get power is becoming a common phenomenon for many homes and buildings. Those areas are considered lucky where there is an abundance of sunlight. However, understanding how it works is still not so popular among people and benefits of solar energy can be misconstrued. Renewable energy and green technology are areas where many people have different questions but one main question is, “Does solar power saves energy”?

If we consider first law of thermodynamics, it states that energy is transformable but it cannot be created or destroyed. In other words, the only way to save energy is to not use energy. Solar power is a source of energy that is renewable; it is not a method of energy conservation. Instead, it is a method of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

How solar power can save you money?

Having a solar power system at your home can save you a nice chunk of money. You can have your own power plant if installed solar panels at your home remain connected to the electrical grid and can actually contribute to the grid. When the sun shines bright all day with no clouds in sight, solar panels can produce more energy. Any excess energy produced will automatically transfers to the electric grid. And if you produce energy for the grid, you will receive a credit from your utility. As a result, you will be saving money instead of spending it.

Solar panels save energy but how much do solar panels save on electricity bills?

It depends on different factors; direct hours of sunlight and the size and angle of your roof are both important but local electricity rates play the biggest role in determining how much money you can save. The first step is to calculate how much you are spending every year on electricity bills. For example, the average annual electricity use required is approx. 10,400 kilowatt hour (kWh). Multiply that by the national average electricity rate ($0.1326 per kWh) and you will find that one home spends over $1,856 a year on electricity alone.

You have to keep in mind the volatile nature of electricity prices and determine the increase in electricity rates in the coming years. When you compare cost of utility electricity with home solar, also consider the increasing rates of electricity. Over the past decade, the trend shows that there is a 2.2% per rate increase in electricity annually. When you generate your own energy, you do not have to worry about the increase in electricity rates any longer.

Thus, solar panels can greatly, if not entirely, offset your monthly electric bill. “If a utility electricity prices fluctuate so could the amount of savings”, says Garret Nilsen, a program manager at the U.S. Department of Energy’s solar energy technologies office. Your amount of savings can also vary depending on the energy consumption.

Sunlight exposure

In cutting-off utility bills, the exposure of sunlight plays a significant role. If the sunlight falls directly on your roof and you are getting the best angle, your solar panel will have a great potential to save the energy. Basically, your home orientation towards the sun, the amount of shade and its roof type affect a solar system’s output. You can estimate the efficiency of panels in your area by using the Solar-Estimate calculator. Enter your address, utility provider and the average cost of your monthly energy bill.

Be economical

Go for solar panels that suit your needs and can be easily installed. Usually solar panels are not very cheap. With installation, an average residential 5kW size system runs between $3 and $5 per watt or $15,000 to $25,000 before tax credits and incentives, according to the Centre for Sustainable Energy. But minimum long-term expenses can make up for the present cost. Regarding this matter Nilsen says, “Most systems do not require much maintenance and are designed to last for 20 years or more with little change to the amount of electricity produced”.

The only cost associated with your solar panel is the cost of installation and any electricity cost that your system does not off-set 100% of your electricity use. Whether your system completely off-set your electricity or not depends on the accuracy of your PV system. You can easily calculate how many solar panels you will need to get the 100 percentage.

Benefits of solar panels

Environmental concerns

Although fossil fuels are cheap and generate inexpensive electricity but it proved to be a disaster for environment. Solar power by contrast is completely clean, no air and water pollution and no green house gas effects.

Disruptions in energy supply

As the demand for energy has been increasing, we have been forced to import increasing amounts to meet the need. Imported energy is also not reliable. Solar energy eliminates this problem and having solar energy at home, energy supply to distant areas is not a problem anymore.

Self-reliance

With the increased use of solar panels at home, there is a prevailing sense of self-reliance. The ability to produce energy at home decreases reliance on utility companies.

Furthermore, you can generate both heat and electricity from sunlight using different methods. The two important methods are solar thermal heating and PV panels. Solar thermal heating uses sunlight to heat domestic water. The pipes in solar thermal panel run the heated water to a storage cylinder for use by the household. Solar panels are installed on the roof of your house or garage. As described earlier,they gather light from the sun and energy is then converted to electricity for domestic use. The PV panels are available in two options: tiles or fixed panels. Panels are the cheaper option. These panels vary in size and length. Efficiency of energy increases with the exposure of sunlight but they can also produce electricity in areas with less sunlight.

As a responsible individual of the earth, we are clearly transitioning from heavy reliance on fossil fuel energy sources to electricity produced by renewable resources. The upfront cost may be high but the long-term pay-off will be permanent. It’s likely that eventually that most homes will be either built with solar installations or they will be added later. You should not wait any longer as the upfront cost of solar system installation is easily justifiable by the long-term savings. If you have high electric bills and you are living in an area with abundant sunshine, the pay-off can come even sooner. Now you can join the solar revolution by installing solar panels at your homes. Having solar production at your home will put you in a better position to welcome an increasingly different future.