Solar homes harness solar energy to generate electricity for heat and water.
Solar panels are typically made of crystalline silicon and use a system of lenses or mirrors to maximize the light that reaches them. An electric current is created by harnessing energy from sunlight to generate electricity.
Solar homes have increased almost exponentially, especially in parts of the U.S. such as Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Southern California where there are longer sun-hours and clearer skies.
Installation of a solar system can cost around $15,000-$25,000 . Despite this high start up cost, the Return of Investment (ROI) of solar systems can be more than 200% over the course of its lifetime (25 years) and appreciate the value of your home
Many states offer incentives, such as rebates for switching to solar. Many states in the U.S. offer a 30 percent federal tax credit based on the cost of setting up the system. Each state offers different forms of rebate as well, lowering the total installation cost.
Solar panels require relatively low maintenance and only need to cleaned couple of times per year. Several companies specialize in cleaning panels, which may cost around $30.
The inverter is usually the only part that needs to be changed after 5-10 years because it is continuously working to convert solar energy into electricity and heat. The cables also need maintenance to ensure your solar power system runs at maximum efficiency.
The highest cost will be installation, but afterwards you can expect relatively low spending on maintenance and repair.
Solar panels tend to appreciate value of a home (~$15,000)
Homes with solar system, on average, spend less time in the housing market
Extra power generated can be sold to utilities
Cities near the equator tend to have the highest solar potential because the sun hits the ground more directly: the more direct the sun's rays, the more efficiently solar panels can collect them.
The amount of insolation, or the energy captured by the panels, depends on the sun’s position in the sky, time of day, cloud coverage, and other geographical and atmospheric conditions.
Factors that Determine Solar Insolation (how much solar energy hits your solar panel):
Peak hours and day length: At noon, peak solar insolation occurs due to the sun’s highest position, allowing peak energy to be captured. During sunrise and sunset, the sun is at a lower angle and allows less energy to be captured by panels. Factors such as geographic location and orientation of the panels should be determined to find insolation values to maximize energy output.
Seasons: summertime creates the highest insolation due to the sun’s higher position in the sky
Location and air quality: Solar insolation is higher near the equator due to the sun’s angle with the panels, while areas with higher pollution receive less direct sun as it is deflected in the air
Reducing your energy consumption will significantly lower your utility bills and will reduce the size of the home-based renewable energy system you need. To achieve maximum energy efficiency, you should take a whole-building approach.
Your home is an energy system with interrelated parts, all of which work together to contribute to the efficiency of the system.
Homes that are able to use and store heat efficiently by allowing minimal escape energy by the building’s design is considered energy efficient. This may look like installing glass tinted windows to reduce sun heat or using energy systems that require lower energy to operate.
Before choosing a wind system for your home, consider reducing your energy consumption by making your home or business more energy efficient. Learning how electricity is used in U.S. homes can help you decide where you can improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Energy efficient homes have thermic systems that prevent infiltration or escape of heat, depending on whether it is winter or summer time.
Energy efficient homes may also have appliances, such as a solar system, that generates electricity at an optimal, cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly way.
Tips on making your home energy efficient
(U.S. Department of Energy):
1. Improving insulation and sealing air leaks are two of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste.
2. Turning your thermostat down 7° to 10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting can save as much as 10% on heating and cooling.
3. Installing Low-E exterior or interior storm windows can save you 12% to 33% on heating and cooling costs, depending on the type of window already installed in the home
5. Appliances with the Energy Star® label have been identified by the U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Energy as being the most energy-efficient products in their categories
Realty Sage partnered with Energy Sage to provide you with a comparison tool of local installers. EnergySage has a description of these to compare and see the pros and cons of these different solar options.
Click below to find out how you can make your home solar by comparing estimates from local solar providers for free!
State-Specific Incentives for Solar Homes
Each state offers unique incentives for residents to install solar systems in their homes. Realty Sage offers resources for finding state-specific incentives and financing options for solar, and renewable, energy. These include tax credits and loan programs for renewable energy. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) offers the "most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States.”