Going green is not just beneficial for the environment; it’s an opportunity for the average person to save money. Lower utility bills are a great place to start, but there are other opportunities and incentives for making some changes to your energy usage.
Five Benefits of Going Solar
Solar energy isn’t a new concept, but it is gaining more attention as we try to curb our fossil fuel usage. There are more reasons than ever to make the leap to solar power.
Reduce or Eliminate Your Energy Bills
Energy costs are on the rise, and solar panels can translate to big savings on your energy bills. As long as your home sees some sun, your solar panels will offset at least some of your energy costs. Many people are able to power their entire home, but even if you don’t generate enough to fully power your property, you’ll still lower your monthly bills.
Take Advantage of Tax Credits and Rebates
For home and land owners choosing to make the change to solar energy, depending on where you live and your energy provider, various tax credits, rebates, and SRECs (solar renewable energy certificates) may be available. If you produce excess energy during certain times of the day, you can also earn credits from your local provider if your panels are hooked into the grid.
Making the switch to solar means you’re using a renewable energy source that’s clean and efficient. A single residential solar panel system for a two-person home can reduce carbon emissions by up to four tons per year!
Solar energy can generate electricity and heat, making it useful for lighting a building, distilling water, and even powering satellites. The applications and capabilities of solar energy allow even the most remote areas to have access to modern conveniences.
Solar panels are desirable additions for real estate buyers. In addition to incentives and energy savings, they also add value to your property. According to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a solar system adds an average of $3–4 per watt, which means that a 3.5-kW system would add around $10,000–14,000 in home value, and a 5,000-kW system would add $15,000–20,000. Taken together, all of these benefits can amount to a return on investment of 10 to more than 30 percent if you own your solar panels.
More Energy-Saving Opportunities
If you’re looking to conserve even more, some of these options can lower your energy use and save money on gas, electricity, and water!
Alternate Cooling Options
It’s tempting to crank up the air conditioning when you start sweating the moment you step outside, but consider holding off. Try one of these alternative ways to keep your home cool.
- Install a ceiling fan, which uses far less energy than an air conditioner.
- Replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters regularly so they are more efficient.
- Change your thermostat settings when nobody is home and at night while you sleep. For each degree you lower your thermostat for eight hours per day, you will save approximately 1% on your bill.
- Use a wood or pellet stove for heat instead of the furnace.
Change the Lighting
Technology has brought about big changes in lighting choices. There are plenty of ways to keep your home and workspaces lit without breaking the bank.
- Swap out those energy draining incandescent bulbs for newer options like LED (light-emitting diodes) and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), which can reduce energy use for lighting by 75% or more.
- Use light shelves and light tubes to amplify existing light from the sun.
- Install skylights or clerestory windows for increased natural light. Clerestory windows are short, high windows near the top of a wall that are protected by the roof overhang but still allow natural light and warmth into your home, even in the winter.
Update Showerheads and Toilets
Low-flow showerheads and toilets reduce water consumption and come with other options for conservation that can save more upwards of 12,000 gallons of water each year. There are also vacuum-assist toilets and dual-flush toilets that use less water when flushing.
The Choice Is Yours
There are many sustainable, affordable ways to power your day-to-day life, but you’ll need to determine which options fit your lifestyle the best.
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