Solar Technology & Off-Grid Solutions
Rising energy costs and environmental concerns are driving more and more homeowners to consider alternative ways to operate their homes. Thankfully, the increased demand, coupled with technological advancements, means that solar and other off-grid solutions are more financially accessible. Bottom line? There are more options available than ever before.
“What are your goals?” As with any home project, this is the first question we ask. Are you considering alternate solutions because you want to save money? Aim to be kinder to the environment? Rely less on municipal infrastructure? Do you want to run your whole house or just a portion? Clarifying the reasoning for incorporating these solutions will help design an integrated solution to power your home.
Solar has come a long way since it first surfaced decades ago. With advancements in technology, it now takes a much smaller footprint to produce the same amount of power. As a result, solar panels are smaller and installed more easily on existing buildings, and even on the ground. Solar power also can improve the resale value of your home while reducing your energy costs.
Solar is best installed by a professional who can help determine the optimal system depending on your goals. Typically, there are tax benefits and you have an option to sell power back to a local electric utility if you produce more energy than needed. Your contractor should be well versed in tax and utility benefits as well as the technology-fueled advancements.
You also have the option to use solar to power some areas of your home, such as landscape and security lighting, water features and other accessories. Of course, the key to solar is the amount of sun that hits the solar panel. While we have an astonishing amount of year-round sun in our region, the exact placement of the panel should maximize sun exposure.
Going “Off the Grid”
Going off the grid means becoming independent from reliance on utilities, including gas, water, and electricity. A home building movement, going off the grid focuses on creating self-reliant homes, from collecting rainwater, to using solar and wind for power and recycling grey water.
Since most homeowners do not have the luxury of starting from scratch – or don’t want to – here are a few ways you can reduce your reliance on your utility companies:
Recycle rainwater. Depending on the size of your landscape, using rainwater could go beyond adding a few rain barrels and could include adding underground cisterns to feed your property. If you are watering your lawn and plants, using rainwater could reduce your water bill measurably.
Consider solar. As discussed, solar can power your entire home or defined areas – you choose.
Wind. You don’t have to install a giant turbine in your yard to harness wind power. Actually, your utility may offer multiple choices for where your power originates.
Wood stoves. The original heating system, wood stoves are now more efficient and attractive than ever before. Consider heating your home with wood products (from logs to pellets) to get toasty this winter.
Update appliances. While still reliant on electricity, more efficient appliances use less power making it more feasible to produce all the power you need to run your home.
Alternate power sources are more accessible to consumers nearly every day. If you are interested in incorporating some solar or off-grid solutions into your home, be sure to contact an experienced provider who will put your goals first.