Sunday, June 21, 2009

Is Solar Energy Right For You?

By Walter Hull

If I was a betting man, I'd say you are already using solar energy. It is in your fuel, your food, and in some form or another almost everything you do. In more practical terms, though, we are talking about heat and electricity. Why should we use solar energy systems to power our homes?

The answers to this question are simple. There is no other source of energy on the planet more reliable than solar energy. When is the last time you woke up in the morning and there was no Sun?

Equally important we must consider the cost of fuel. Solar energy passes this test, also, because it will cost you zero. Once the equipment is in place, the Sun will keep it going each and every day! Pure and simple.

It can be argued that solar energy systems are not extremely efficient. And we will not argue because this is true. But the thing to remember is this: solar energy systems are improving each and every year, and no matter what the efficiency is there is zero cost for the fuel.

The difficulties in using solar energy are with selecting the right application and the right equipment. How much does a solar energy system cost and how difficult is it to integrate? How simple or elaborate should it be? In my location, is solar energy right for me? Here we present a few straight forward answers to help your case.

People who live in locations with a regular pattern of sun, absolutely you should use solar energy. You could be saving money and helping the environment all in one.

For our fair weather friends in the North and on the coast, the decision is more involved. Solar energy, truthfully, many not be right for you. There just simply isn't enough solar radiation to put to good use. Do not give up hope, though, there is always hydro and always wood.

The most simple and cost effective solar energy systems are designed for acquiring heat. They can be used for making hot water, storing thermal energy, among many other things. If your have cool Winters and lots of sun then you are a particularly good candidate for using passive solar heat.

When it comes to making electricity from solar energy, the answer will depend on many things. Truth be told, the combustion engines and furnaces at the local Utility are sometimes hard to beat.

If your household or business consumes lots of electricity then solar power is hard to justify. This is where local Utilities are good, they can kick out the juice for all the high power users and the heavy duty industries. But if you are simple in life and efficient in how you use energy, then the up-front cost of solar power can pay off over time. It could be as little as 5 years depending on the electrical rate of your local utility (i.e. California)

If you are far away from the electrical grid and building a new home, then solar power is easy to justify. You can save money by avoiding expensive transmission cables routed to your property.

If you are interested in an emergency reserve of energy, then this also is a good use for solar energy. You could charge a large bank of batteries with a small number of panels. So when you get those destructive storms and environmental disasters, just kick in the emergency reserve and ride it through.

Whatever your specific purpose, the reasons for using solar energy are many. Whether saving money, reducing pollution, or backing yourself up in case of emergency, installing a solar energy system can be a profitable and rewarding experience.

About the Author:

No comments: