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Shedding Some Light on Home Solar


Consumers shopping around for home improvement projects may be leaning toward overhauls that can reduce energy consumption and save them money in the long run. This is often a driving factor behind a growing number of homeowners investigating solar energy for their residences.


How does solar power work?

Solar power harnesses the sun’s energy and converts it into electricity that can be used in homes. Many people are familiar with photovoltaics (PV), which are the panels that absorb sunlight and create an electric field across their layers. Another solar technology, known as concentrating solar power, is primarily used in large power plants and is not appropriate for residential use, according to Energy.gov. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, hundreds of thousands of solar panels have been put in use across the United States since 2008.


Costs associated with solar

The upfront expense of solar panels is significant, costing anywhere from $10,000 to $14,000 for initial installation. However, comparatively speaking, homeowners can spend $1,500 or more per year on electricity, so solar panels will pay for themselves over time. Keep in mind that costs may vary depending on energy needs and how many panels will be required to service the system.


How much electricity can I expect?

The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Advice says that the amount of power generated from a solar energy system depends on a few factors:

  • The average number of hours of direct, unshaded sunlight your roof gets each year;

  • The pitch (angle), age, and condition of your roof, and the compass direction it faces;

  • The size and strength of your system

  • Environmental factors such as snow, dust or shade that may cover the system.

Save even more money

Consumers can contact their utility companies to find out if they provide homeowners who produce solar power with “net metering.” This program pays the homeowner money or gives credit for excess power the system produces and returns to the electric grid. Individuals also may be eligible for energy tax credits or other benefits. Homeowners may find it worthwhile to explore solar energy, particularly if they consume a high amount of electricity.


What is climate change mitigation?

Scientists have long since recognized that the planet is growing warmer. A changing climate poses significant challenges, not the least of which is what can be done to prevent the most negative consequences of global warming.


For decades, climate researchers have urged policymakers to embrace strategies designed to limit global warming to between 2.7 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit during the 21st century. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes that realizing that goal is unlikely without dramatic action in the next couple of decades.


If limiting global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 80 years is increasingly unlikely, then additional strategies to confront climate change must be considered. One such strategy is climate change mitigation. According to the UN Environment Programme, climate change mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent the emission of greenhouse gases. Such efforts could help in the fight against climate change.


The Global Environment Facility (GEF) supports the work of developing countries as they look to address the world’s most pressing environmental issues. Mitigation is a valuable tool in that fight, and the GEF provided support for 940 climate change mitigation projects in the organization’s first quarter century. GEF support was directed toward projects that aimed to mitigate emissions related to the production and consumption of energy, which the organization noted is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.


Individuals interested in climate change mitigation should know that they can play a part. Some ways for individuals to support mitigation include:

  • Retrofit homes and offices to make them more energy efficient;

  • Invest in solar paneling for your home or business;

  • Support legislation that aims to safely integrate renewable energy sources like wind and solar;

  • Invest in electric vehicles;

  • Support legislation that promotes sustainable use of land, including forests.

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