Graphene and Semiconductor Technology: Smaller, Cheaper, Better
Mobile phones that bend, self-powered nanodevices , new and improved solar cell technology and windows that generate electricity are but a few of the potential products from the union of semiconductors and graphene.
Renewable Energy World.com
Semiconductors grown on graphene at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) may be the most important research breakthrough of 2012 in Norway. At the centre of the research efforts are Professor Helge Weman, Professor Bjørn-Ove Fimland and post-doctoral fellow Dong-Chul Kim. The team is now working on translating the results of their basic research into an initial prototype.
Just One Atom Thick
In the 1960s, researchers envisioned that graphite (pure carbon) could be cut into layers measuring only one atom in thickness – resulting in the material known as graphene.
In the 1990s, researchers managed to create a layer as thin as 100 atoms, but there was no progress after that until 2004, when Russian-born Andre Geim grabbed a tape dispenser from his desk at the University of Manchester, pressed a bit of tape over a thin layer of graphite and peeled it away. When he examined the tape under a microscope, he discovered a layer only one carbon atom thick. Graphene was born!
In 2010, Dr Geim and his colleague, Konstantin Novoselov, were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in demonstrating the unique properties of graphene.
Ahead of the Pack at NTNU
Six months before Dr Geim and Dr Novoselov arrived in Stockholm to receive their prize, and before graphene had become an item of interest, South Korean post-doctoral fellow Dong Chul Kim at NTNU had suggested to Professors Helge Weman and Bjørn-Ove Fimland at the Department of Electronics and Telecommunications that they should take a closer look at precisely this material. The suggestion came shortly after the NTNU group already had succeeded in growing semiconductor nanowires made of gallium arsenide (GaAs) on silicon substrates. This led Dr Weman to wonder if it would be possible to grow semiconductor nanowires directly on graphene instead.
The collective expertise of Professor Weman, Professor Fimland and Dr Kim proved to be a fruitful combination. The researchers quickly achieved their first breakthrough of growing semiconductors nanowires on a one-atom-thick base in September 2010, and in the summer of 2012 they published their results in the American journal Nano Letters.
These active semiconductors normally grow to be one micron (a millionth of a metre) in thickness.
Will Silicon Become Obsolete?
Graphene is definitely the hottest topic right now among nanomaterial researchers. The pure-carbon material is by far the thinnest and strongest known to exist. It is 200 times stronger than steel, conducts electricity 100 times faster than silicon and is superior to any other material in conducting heat. It is impermeable, yet pliable and transparent at the same time. And inexpensive large-scale production of graphene is now becoming a reality.
At present, electronics and solar cells are using thick silicon substrates. But silicon has clear limitations, including size. Large technology companies are struggling to produce silicon-based electronics that are smaller than those currently on the market. Another challenge with using silicon is that silicon-based electronics generate a great deal of heat. Many people consider graphene to be the prime candidate for replacing silicon.
Large multinational corporations such as IBM and Samsung have poured a lot of effort into research on both semiconductors and graphene. But the real breakthrough in growing semiconductors on graphene actually took place at NTNU in Trondheim.
The findings of these researchers in Trondheim may be used to make electronics and solar cells that are several hundred times thinner than current models. This will make it possible to produce electronics that are both pliable and transparent, in addition to being less expensive and more energy-efficient.
More Efficient Solar Cells and LEDs
It will probably not be long before simple graphene products begin appearing on the market. Some of them will be based on semiconductor technology.
Semiconductors are a main component in almost all modern electronics. Without them, it would not be possible to have computers, smartphones, solar cells, LED lights or devices using lasers, i.e. everything from printers to fibre communications. All these items can be made smaller and better using graphene. Graphene can both supplant the semiconductor substrate and serve as a transparent electrode for a pliable nanowire solar cell.
“Solar cell and LED technology will be the initial areas to see new products using semiconductors grown on graphene,” Dr Weman believes.
Under-priced fossil-fuel energy is the primary contributor to global warming. Sunlight is an alternative source with enormous potential, but solar energy will have to become less expensive and more efficient. Semiconductor nanowires based on graphene may just finally tip the scales in favour of solar energy.
“If semiconductor nanowires grown on graphene are used in solar cells, the same amount of sunlight can be converted to energy using one-tenth the volume of materials used in thin-film solar cells. And that means we’ve cut down on even more material by growing the semiconductors on graphene instead of on a thick semiconductor substrate. New research also shows that graphene has additional unique properties that enhance the efficiency of a solar cell,” Dr Weman explains.
LED light bulbs are superior in terms of energy efficiency, but have been more expensive to produce because of costly semiconductor substrates. Semiconductor nanowires on graphene will make it possible to supply the world with LED lamps that are far cheaper and much more efficient while also being more pliable and weighing less than today’s lamps.
Industrialisation on the Horizon
The work on graphene at NTNU has drawn the attention of many international companies interested in collaborating with the Trondheim-based researchers and their start-up company, CrayoNano. But the potential industrial queries so far have come solely from Asia and the US. Actors in Norway and Europe have yet to express any interest.
“We are pioneers in that we are using graphene for something other than basic research. We may already have our first prototype in place by the end of 2013, but we don’t wish to reveal what it is yet,” Dr Weman says.
“The field we are working with – using graphene as a replacement for silicon and other semiconductor substrates in electronics and solar cells – entails many new opportunities. But the potential is just as great for applications using graphene in areas other than electronics, such as in the medical sector. Graphene can be used in the body without causing any harm,” Dr Weman explains.
“In a world where drinking water is in short supply, employing oxygen-modified graphene filters to purify water is yet another exciting application. It’s a whole new way to turn seawater into fresh water.”
In any case, research and development activities will be needed for many years. Dr Weman likens the current state of graphene research to where silicon was in the early 1960s.
Research Council Funding Paved the Way
The Research Council of Norway has been a key source of funding for the Trondheim-based researchers throughout. Helge Weman makes it clear that funding under the Commercialising R&D Results (FORNY2020) programme and the Funding Scheme for Independent Basic Research Projects (FRIPRO) is what made it possible to achieve the unexpected research breakthrough. The researchers have also benefited significantly from funding allocated under the Research Programme on Nanotechnology and New Materials (NANOMAT) and the Large-Scale Programme Clean Energy for the Future (RENERGI).
The professor points out that NTNU’s strategic initiative on nanotechnology launched in 2005 is a good example of what future-oriented research policy can help to achieve.
Solar power has been around since the earth has had a sun, and will continue to exist as long as that remains true. In fact, we have been using solar power as long as life as we know it has been in existence.
At the very bottom of the food chain, plants convert sunlight into glucose, therefore converting solar energy into a usable form. This stored energy moves up the food chain as the plants are eaten by animals, and those plants and animals are eaten as well. What this means is that all life is powered and sustained by solar energy.
We use solar power to warm our homes, by opening the windows and letting the sunlight stream through. We use it to heat our swimming pools, to cook food, and, at the very least, to see. Solar power is nothing new—but the way that we are able to use and apply it to our everyday lives has changed dramatically in recent history.
In ancient times, houses were constructed into the side of hills and mountains to use the heat that was stored from sunlight during the day, and released after sunset. Fast forward to the late 1800’s, and a solar powered steam engine was created, along with the first solar powered water heater, and an early version of photovoltaic cells.
The price of these new inventions was too high to be feasible for use by the masses. However, following the trends of all forms of technology, the price decreased over time. Today, solar power as we know it has become more affordable, and continues to become a more viable option for homeowners everywhere.
Many consumers, even those who consider themselves greenies, won’t bother to investigate purchasing solar energy systems for their home. Even the smartest consumers among us have a difficult time understanding how solar could possibly be a viable, affordable energy choice. This disconnect happens for the simple reason that communication about the personal benefit solar can bring to a homeowner as well as the economic benefit it can bring to our nation is lacking.
We Americans are bombarded daily with news stories that support our addiction to fossil fuels. For example, there are twice as many news stories about the Keystone Pipeline and the economic benefits it might bring to America, than there are about the economic benefits that solar energy is providing. In addition there is a lot of noise made by politicians and pundits who seem almost gleeful when an American company like Solyndra fails because this supports their political viewpoint that there is no market in America for solar.
Of course, this is total nonsense. When the horseless carriage was first invented, some start-up auto manufacturers went out of business, but obviously others survived and prospered. Those who are selling the idea that solar is not ready for prime time and so should be ignored either do not know what they are talking about, or stand to benefit from killing competitors to the fossil fuel industry.
The fact is that the solar energy industry is actually booming and as a result, it is creating lots of green jobs every year. Solar industry leaders in America are working hard to make the USA a leading manufacturer and exporter of solar technologies with the goal to one day we can outperform China. However, stories about the positive economic benefits of solar are few and far between.
Solar is a technology that has been around for decades. Although the industry has been experiencing record growth, the technology itself remains stable and dependable.
Can we help you to switch to solar energy? To receive a thorough consultation to explore how solar could work for your home and budget, schedule an appointment with one of our solar consultants by clicking here: www.solareworld.com. You might be surprised by what you learn.
To stay updated on the ever improving world of solar power, follow Solar Energy World on Facebook.
An occasional solar panel cleaning is a good idea, as build up of debris can block the sunlight from reaching your solar cells. Dirt, dust, and even pollution can cloud the surface of your solar panels, and prevent them from absorbing the maximum amount of solar radiation. Adding regular solar panel cleaning to your spring cleaning routine will help maintain the efficiency of your panels, and keep them in good repair.
How Not to Clean Your Solar Panels
When cleaning your panels, you want to be careful not to damage them, or leave any sort of residue that will attract the rapid buildup of dirt and debris. Some of the bad ideas for solar panel cleaning include:
- Pressure washing them
- Scraping them or scratching them with a broom
- Damaging the surface with bleach, or other harsh chemicals
How to Clean Your Solar Panels
Cleaning your solar panels is a task that you can do yourself, or you can hire a professional service. Solar panel cleaning kits are available (try searching an online retailer, like Amazon.com), and cleaning solutions that are designed specifically for the surface of solar panels are available as well.
For professional solar panel cleaning services, try asking your solar power system installation company, or research local window cleaning companies, which may offer special services for solar panel customers.
Don’t forget, Solar Energy World customers are offered an annual maintenance plan for solar power systems, which includes a full system inspection and cleaning.
With the occurrence of Earth Hour last weekend, and with Earth Day rapidly approaching, we at Solar Energy World are using this opportunity to offer tips and advice for making aspects of your life a little greener. Today, our topic of choice is the office environment. Since you likely spend approximately 40 hours of the week in the office, along with time spent traveling to, from, and for work, a greener workplace could make a huge impact in your environmental footprint.
1. Choose green lighting options.
LED lights use less energy than older bulbs, so swapping out older fixtures can make a difference in your energy bills. Lights that turn on or off using sensors are another great way to save money over offices that are brightly illuminated, even if portions are unoccupied. Offices with large windows or skylights are at an advantage as well, since they can make use of natural lighting during the day, and open them for fresh air.
2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
It is such a common practice today, that it is likely that your office already recycles paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum. If not, you should definitely make the switch! Also, consider other materials that can be reused or recycled, such as wooden pallets or shipping materials. You can help reduce the amount of waste produced by reusing products like paper or plastic cups from the water cooler (or using a reusable water bottle), or by setting your printer to print on both sides of the page by default. Better yet, instead of printing many copies for meetings or to pass around to clients and coworkers, use the digital tools at hand and send emails, or use a projector.
3. Allow telecommuting.
Telecommuting is becoming more popular, and for good reason. Remote workers save companies big money by reducing the onsite services needed, such as heating and cooling, lighting, water and sewage, and even the amount of office space needed. Of course, this also reduces the workplace’s environmental footprint. Employees benefit as well, considering that commute time and fuel costs are eliminated, productivity increases, and work continues even through minor illnesses and bad weather. Irene Sanders of Cisco reports that, in 2012, employers saved approximately $2,400 per year for each employee that worked from home just one day per week, and that does not include the benefit of increased productivity and boosted morale.
4. Add plants to the office space.
A little greenery goes a long to way to improving indoor air quality. Plants can help filter indoor air, which is important since many materials, such as particle board, carpet, and paint give off toxins that lead to health problems and birth defects. Plus, cheerful plants and flowers can make any office seem more welcoming, and less sterile.
5. Use renewable energy.
This one is an obvious favorite of ours, but with good reason! Offset your office building’s energy usage by installing a solar power system, and you will not only save money, but you will reduce waste, and set a good example for neighboring buildings as well.
6. Keep up with maintenance.
Drafty doors and windows lead to heat loss or gain (depending on the outdoor temperature), which correlates with the amount of work your HVAC system must perform (unless, of course, your employees telecommute, in which case you would not need to maintain a certain temperature every day). Leaky faucets and pipes, and faulty appliances all contribute to energy usage or wasted water as well. Plus, broken pipes and electronics can lead to other hazards, like fire and mold.
7. Be smart about electronics usage.
Enable energy saving modes for printers and other electronic office supplies. Choose “quick print” modes for documents that do not require exceptional quality, such as drafts or notes, and you will save on the cost of ink. Unplug computers at the end of the day to reduce vampire energy loss (the electricity drain that occurs when a powered down device is still plugged into the outlet).
8. Order recycled or sustainable supplies.
Choose recycled or biodegradable products to lessen your environmental impact, and place large orders to be delivered in one shipment. This saves on packaging and transportation costs, and can also save money on shipping and handling expenses.
9. Plant a garden.
Just as adding plants to the interior of the office improves indoor air quality and atmosphere, adding them outside provides these same benefits as well. Planting a garden or a few trees creates a nice, welcoming appearance for your office, and improves the air quality. Add a few benches or picnic tables, and you have a great space for employees to eat lunch, or have outdoor meetings.
10. Publicize Your Policy!
Just like any workplace policy, your green policies and goals will only be effective if every employee knows about them. Post a sign reminding them to recycle, to unplug their computers, or reminding them of the option to telecommute. Social media solutions, like Practically Green’s Business Platform, can help you track employee’s green actions, and company progress. You may even find that other employees and coworkers have other ideas that could contribute to a greener, happier workplace!
Earth Hour will be held on Saturday, March 23, 2013 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. It is not specific to a certain time zone, but will be observed separately in local time zones as the clock strikes 8:30.
So what exactly is Earth Hour, and what is the point?
For the past nine years, Earth Hour has been celebrated as a symbolic act by those who wish to prevent global climate change, and reduce their impact on the environment. The idea is simple: turn off your lights for one hour, starting at 8:30 pm local time. But your commitment to the environment should not end when the hour is over, and Earth Hour is meant to last beyond the hour itself. Participants are asked to get involved as individuals, or with their communities or businesses in order to make a difference. Suggestions could be to plant trees, improve the home or workplace to be more energy efficient, or other green action of your choice, and then to spread the word and encourage others to do the same.
This St. Patrick’s Day weekend, homeowners came to the Be Green & Save Green Solar 101 Workshop to learn about home solar power. This two hour workshop featured Solar Analyst Brent Cotton, who discussed the benefits of solar power for homeowners, along with important information, such as the return on investment for a solar power system.
Solar Energy World hosts workshops at our Maryland headquarters so that homeowners can learn about the cost, benefits, and process of going solar. These workshops are free with RSVP, and include complimentary refreshments, a free gift, and a tour of our rooftop solar power system. Not only are our Solar 101 Workshops a great way for homeowners to gather all of the information they need to make a decision about home solar power, but they also provide the perfect opportunity to ask questions and get answers from a qualified Solar Analyst.
Stay tuned, and follow Solar Energy World on Facebook to learn when our next workshop will take place!
You may also be interested in:
Why You Should Choose a SunPower Premier Dealer
Solar Energy World and SunPower Help Maryland Homeowners Go Green
1. Solar power reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Solar power is clean energy. There are no byproducts or harmful pollutants released into the atmosphere when generating solar electricity. While traditional electricity sources require the burning of coal or fossil fuels, solar panels use solar energy immediately, without the need for combustion.
2. Solar energy is a renewable resource.
The sun fuels solar panels, so there is no need to worry about rising fuel prices if your home is powered by a solar electric system. Free, clean energy is always available, so solar panels simply provide peace of mind.
3. Solar saves money.
Solar energy is free. It has always been, and always will be free. Other sources of energy, on the other hand, cost money, and the price of conventionally supplied electricity continues to rise over time.
4. Solar power can earn you money.
Depending on the particular incentives for your location, you may be eligible to earn Solar Renewable Energy Credits, or SRECs. SRECs are earned based on the amount of energy generated by your solar power system. They can then be sold, meaning that you earn money simply for having a solar system on your roof!
5. Solar power means energy independence.
You can pay off your home and your car, but you may not have considered owning your electricity source. Solar power puts you in control, so that you will not have to pay the utility company every month. Not only is this good for your wallet, you can also be assured that your household’s carbon footprint has been significantly reduced by switching to solar power.
Do you want to learn more about solar power for your home? Join us for our Solar 101 Workshop!
On the evening of Thursday, September 27th, Solar Energy World and SunPower hosted Solar Energy World’s first Solar Stars Soiree at Turf Valley Country Club in Ellicott City, Maryland. Over 100 attendees listened to presentations about solar power by some of the most influential women involved in solar and green energy, and enjoyed an evening of awards, prizes, and hors d’oeuvres to celebrate the power of women in solar energy.
The Soiree included an informative question and answer session, where attendees learned valuable information about the benefits of solar power. Featured speakers included Laureen Peck, Vice President of Marketing for Solar Energy World and moderator for the event, Ann Elsen, founder of Elsen Energy, Susan Greene, President of American Solar Energy Society, Stelli Munnis of SunPower Corporation, as well as Summer Reed and Sara Callaghan, also of Solar Energy World. Topics included financial incentives, SRECs, and the factors that caused the women of the panel to become involved in solar energy.
Homeowners listened to presentations about solar energy, the financial and environmental benefits, and the process of installing a solar power system in a home or business. In addition, Candice Stankus, a homeowner and Solar Energy World customer spoke about her experience with the company, and with solar power in general. Summer and Sara of Solar Energy World discussed SRECs, incentives, and net-metering, and attendees participated in a question and answer session with the members of the discussion panel.
Several prominent and influential attendees received the Solar Energy World 2012 POW! Award (Power of Women)
About the POW! Award Winners
POW! Award winner, Kim Parson is President of Maryland-based Automotive Collision Technologies, one of Baltimore Business Journal’s 50 Largest Woman-Owned Businesses. She is devoted to running her business with integrity when it comes to customers, and the environment.
POW! Award winner, Ann Elsen was a contributing speaker at the Solar Stars Soiree and is the founder of Elsen Energy and the Executive Director of the Howard County Green Business Association, and, as a member of several other green organizations, is a consultant to the local government on energy issues.
POW! Award-winner, Stephanie L. Dunn-Hunt is President of Dunn & Associates Public Relations, another company listed in the BBJ 50 Largest Woman-Owned Businesses. She is the sole creator of the Baltimore African-American Home & Garden Show, and has been featured in Baltimore Smart CEO Magazine.
POW! Award-winner, Lisa Ambrose is founder, President, and CEO of Tithe Corp., also a BBJ Largest Woman-Owned Business. Tithe Corp. is a green, internationally recognized, and 100% woman owned and operated business specializing in innovative HVAC solutions.
Thank you to all of our speakers and guests who attended this event that celebrated the influence of women in green technology and renewable energy! To view even more photos from the event, please visit our Solar Stars Soiree album.
By Faith Fernandez, Guest Contributor
Solar power is free and accessible to everyone. It supports the planet’s entire ecosystem, nourishing plants and animals. Now, we are learning how we can use it to create houses that don’t require so much energy from fossil fuels.
Solar Energy Can Help to Create a Greener Household
- through the production of electricity using solar panels;
- through the use of a solar water heating system;
- through the use of solar air heating; and
- through the growth of plants for cooling.
The Sun Can Generate Electricity
Solar panels, or photo voltaic panels, convert the sun’s radiation into a current of electricity. They are usually installed on south facing roofs (or north facing, in the southern hemisphere), and the energy produced is sold to the local power company and added to the electrical grid. The household that produces the power receives a proportional discount on their electricity bill, and many jurisdictions are paying for solar energy at high rates to encourage the installation of solar panels. With solar panels, it’s theoretically possible to get paid by the power company rather than vice-versa.
The Sun can Heat Water
Barring government incentives for solar PV systems, the most cost effective solar technologies available to homeowners today are solar water heating systems. These systems work with regular water heaters, either tank-based or on-demand, to save energy. Solar water heating systems usually consist of a network of heat absorbing, rooftop water pipes. They preheat the water before it’s brought to its final temperature by a gas or electrically powered system. This can amount to an energy savings of up to 60 per cent.
The Sun Can Heat Air
It doesn’t take a high tech system to make use of solar power for space heating. On cold, sunny winter days, a solar wall or rooftop air heating system can reduce the need for gas or electrically powered space heating substantially. These systems work by allowing interior air to circulate through metal ducts that are being heated by the sun. It’s that simple.
The Sun Can Make Plants Grow
Not only can sunlight be used directly as a heat source, it can also be used to help cool your home. Did you know that plants naturally cool the air? House plants absorb the sun’s heat and cool the air through transpiration. In other words, when a plant “breathes,” it cools the air rather than heating it. Filling windows with plants during the summer helps control solar gain and it also provides natural cooling.
Creating a greener household using the sun’s power is easier than you may have thought. Solar panels and solar-assisted mechanical systems are powerful ways to reduce your use of conventionally generated electricity and natural gas, and a simple awareness of passive heating and cooling can bring your energy use down, too.
To learn more about solar technologies for your home, schedule your free solar analysis today.
by Joe Wateski, Manager, Energy Services Division, Solar Energy World
Quiz time! What do summer and winter have in common with regards to keeping your home comfortable? Answer? HEAT. Here at 3rd rock from the sun, nearly all heat comes from – you guessed it – the sun. Let’s call him Mr. Sun. He helps your home in the winter, but hurts it in the summer. So what are we to do to help ourselves? Get an understanding of the management of HEAT.
Summertime means Air Conditioning (A/C) so question number 2 – Does an air conditioner make cold air? Answer? NO! An air conditioner removes heat . Why is that important to know? Because if you can keep heat out of the home in the 1 stplace, your A/C doesn’t have to work as hard in the 2 nd place. Temperatures in Maryland are nearing 90 degrees F today. Let’s say you want your home at a comfortable 75. So your A/C system needs to overcome 15 degrees.
Heat gain in summer for most homes comes from three (3) primary sources:
- Radiant heat from Mr. Sun entering the home mostly through southern and western facing windows.
- Heat bleeding down from the attic (which can reach over 130 degrees F). This arrives via conduction, through insulation and building material, and especiallyconvection, air flowing through openings to the attic.
- Latent and appliance-generated heat. Latent heat is that heat and humidity coming off of our bodies. Appliance heat comes from pretty much anything that plugs into an electric outlet (including your A/C system).
Let’s start with number 3. The air temperature near a 60W incandescent light bulb is about 120. The air temperature of an equivalent 13W compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) is about 84. That’s a difference of nearly 40 degrees. Is it hot in your home especially at night? Then change out your light-bulbs. CFL’s also put out an equivalent amount of light at about ¼ of the power in. LED lights are even cooler and more efficient. As for the heat coming off of your body, try to keep your cool by thinking happy thoughts. Moving on to number 2…
Heat building up in your attic (which is usually outside of your conditioned living space) will tend to migrate into your home when the A/C is on. This is because your living space at 75 is cooler than the outdoors which might be 85 or hotter. What to do? Make sure your attic has adequate ventilation. Sometimes soffit vents can get blocked by insulation or debris. Check to correct this. Adding mechanical ventilation in the form of a fan on a thermostat is another corrective measure. However, having your attic AIR SEALED and making sure you have an adequate thermal barrier are critically important as well. If you have recessed lights, a whole house fan, or other numerous openings to the attic, heat will readily pass through these and work against you during both summer and wintertime.
Now let’s talk windows. Over 1/3 of your heat gain will come from mostly south and west facing windows. This works for you in winter but against you in summer. While blinds on the inside of windows will let you think you are more comfortable in summer, they only go so far. Once the heat from Mr. Sun has pierced the glass, it’s in your home. Closing the blinds does help because you won’t feel heat on your face as much. However, the heat will tend to build around the window area and eventually meander through the rest of your home. A better solution is a Solar Reflective Screen. This material is installed in a frame that is outside the glass. Why does that matter? Because the heat doesn’t pierce the glass in the 1 st place. Your A/C system doesn’t have to work as hard or as long in the 2 nd place. Just put Solar Reflective Screens up at the start of summer, take them down in the fall.
What if you don’t fully understand everything you just read? What if you find attics uncomfortable in summer? What if you don’t have the time or can’t be bothered? If you live in Maryland, you are in luck!
The Maryland Home Performance with Energy Star Program (which all Marylanders pay into through Empower MD) allows you to get a Quick Home Energy Check up (Q-HEC) for free. If your budget allows and you know you need improvements, a better option is to schedule a comprehensive Energy Audit. This will cost most homeowners only $100 and will yield a report that not only gives you a roadmap towards improvement and lower energy costs, but also includes health and safety items like checking for natural gas leaks or the presence of carbon monoxide. It gets better…both of these services include installation of CFL’s, water heater insulation, even low flow showerheads FOR FREE! The full audit also sets you up to get rebates of up to 50% on energy improvements installed in your home by a qualified energy professional.
If you’re in Maryland check out http://www.mdhomeperformance.org/ or call your utility company for more information on this remarkable program. If you’re not in Maryland, a similar program may still be available to you so check with your local utility company.
Save money, keep comfy, and do something good for the planet.
“Like” Solar Energy World on Facebook to stay informed about energy audits and solar power services, and to be notified of future articles in our blog.