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!
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Solar power can definitely help homeowners save money on their energy costs, and at Solar Energy World, we have installed plenty of residential solar power systems. Many businesses are also seeing the benefits of solar power, both economical and environmental.
Furniture retailer IKEA aims to be powered by 100% renewable energy. This is part of the company’s commitment to sustainable operations, and many other businesses are following suit. This infographic from Solar Energy Industries Association shows the top 20 corporate solar users in America.
Solar power is not just for large companies and national corporations; several businesses have gone solar in Maryland. Our installation at Boarman’s Old Fashioned Meat Market will reduce the grocer’s carbon footprint by an estimated 560,000 pounds!
Last year, the town of Thurmont, Maryland saw it’s first commercial solar installation with the completion of a solar electric system at Federal Stone Industries. In addition, Waldorf, Maryland saw the construction of the first ZeroHouse 2.0, a house that uses solar power and energy efficient design to net zero energy usage, on the east coast.
Many businesses and homeowners are making the switch to solar power, proving that renewable energy is not a fad, but a change that brings real benefit. Solar adopters are seeing lower energy costs, revenue generated by their solar systems, and they are significantly reducing their impact on the environment.
The Solar Holiday Photo Contest is under way, and Solar Energy World is looking for photos of solar-powered homes that are decorated for the holidays!
If you are a home or property owner that has chosen solar power, and you have decorated for the holiday season read the contest rules and submit your entry. Hurry, because all entries must be submitted by Wednesday, December 19, 2012.
All entries will be uploaded to the Solar Holiday Photo Contest Pinterest board by Solar Energy World. Vote for your favorite photos by “liking” the pins, and don’t forget to re-pin your favorites to encourage your followers to vote!
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Solar Holiday Photo Contest Rules and Entry
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With the possibility of a winter storm later this evening, you may be wondering how the snow could affect the performance of your solar power system.
Your solar panels will continue to function when conditions are less than sunny, so while heavy cloud cover may slightly decrease your solar power production, the solar panels will still produce electricity using the solar energy that does reach them.
Luckily, it does not look like we will get too much accumulating snow (but you never know!), so this particular winter event should not interfere with solar power production very much. However, during a more significant snowfall, a blanket of snow would effectively block the sun’s rays, halting power production.
So what could be done to fix the problem, and start generating power again? Usually, the snow will melt relatively quickly, and this is accelerated on steep rooftops as the melting snow tends to slide off of the surface. Otherwise, the snow will have to be manually removed, either by sweeping it off (safely, of course), or using a leaf blower or other device to move it or melt it.
By Samantha J. Majka
How would you feel if what you thought you knew was actually causing you to spend more money every month? Well, there is good news and bad news.
The bad news is that you may have been misinformed about what you need to pay for electricity, and the expense of changing that. The good news is that this article will show you the truth about paying for electricity for your home, and clear up any misconceptions that you may have heard.
One of the most common misconceptions about solar power is that it is only available to a small percentage of homeowners, mainly because of the cost of installation. This belief, as incorrect as it may be, may unfortunately dissuade qualified homeowners from even looking into their options for renewable energy.
Incorrect assumptions about the initial cost of going solar only benefit the utility companies, as electricity costs continue to rise. Many homeowners tolerate the swift kick to the wallet every month simply because they do not believe that they can do any better.
The overall cost of a solar power system can seem intimidating at first, but consider this: purchasing a solar power system is like buying a new car, and upgrading from a gas guzzling clunker. While the price tag may seem intimidating at first, consider the cost of upkeep on the old car, such as gasoline for an inefficient vehicle, and various, unexpected repairs. Buying a new car will likely mean a reliable monthly payment, and fewer trips to the gas station, meaning a more reasonable and manageable cost per month.
That is where solar leasing comes into play. The cost of electricity fluctuates, and rises over time, but many homeowners cling to what they know. Instead, a solar panel system can be installed on your home, while you lease it for a period of up to 20 years. Depending on your down payment, that cost per month will vary, but it will be consistent and reliable. Let’s say that your home is powered 100% by your solar power system, and you finance $20,000 of the cost over a period of 20 years. Your payment for electricity (in the form of your lease payment) will be approximately $83 per month every month, no matter what your utility company charges.*
*Actual cost per month cannot be determined by this article alone. If you are interested in solar power for your home or commercial property, please contact us for a free consultation to assess your personal options and situation.
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.
By Samantha J. Majka
Solar Energy World is the fastest growing installer of solar power systems in the region, and we are pleased to see such an increase in both solar power installations and interest in solar power in general. Naturally, interest tends to generate a lot of questions, and some of the most common questions are in regards to the performance of solar power in what some may consider “less than optimal” conditions. This is a great question, and it is completely understandable that consumers would be concerned about the performance of their solar panels in cloudy weather, or after sunset. Rest assured, if you make the switch to solar power, you will not be left in the dark after sunset, or have to worry about “running out” of power when the sky is cloudy. Your solar panels will continue to generate electricity, even on cloudy days, and, just like electricity that is generated by other means, solar electricity can be stored for a later use.
The solar energy that hits the Earth’s surface every hour is enough to power the entire world for one year. The trick is to capture this energy, and while solar panels do not collect every bit of energy that hits them, efficiency is improving. Fortunately for consumers, as the efficiency is improving, solar power is becoming more and more affordable (especially with solar lease). Needless to say, it is entirely possible, depending on the size of your solar panel system, to generate more energy per day than is required to satisfy the energy needs of your home.
So where does the excess energy go? One way to store this energy is through the use of battery systems. Batteries store the solar electricity for use at times when the sun is not shining, such as at night.
An easier and cheaper solution is store solar power in the existing electrical grid in a process known as net-metering. Your home is already connected to the electrical grid when you use power from a conventional source. The excess electricity generated by your solar panels “overflows” back to the grid, and back to the electric company. This builds up an electricity “credit” that you can tap into when the sun is not shining. You can see proof of this for yourself, as the electric meter on your home will actually run backward when you are generating more power than you are using. In some states, you can sell this excess electricity back to the electric company in the form of “SREC’s” or “Solar Renewable Energy Credits”. This means that you can be paid for having solar panels on your home or business, which shortens the payback period for the initial cost of installation.
You can learn more about solar energy and solar power by liking Solar Energy World on Facebook.
By Samantha J. Majka
Solar power is a great way to bring clean energy to your home, and reduce your family’s carbon footprint. In today’s society we are often removed from the source of the electricity we use, and therefore unaware of just how much pollution we create. With solar power, you can stand on the lawn, and look up at the solar panels on the roof of your house and know exactly where your electricity comes from, and exactly how much waste you create (nothing!).
Financially, there are several benefits that you can take advantage of as a homeowner. The most obvious is the fact that solar energy is free. Therefore, as electricity becomes more and more expensive for the average homeowner, the solar panel installation on your home will become more valuable. You may also qualify for certain grants and tax incentives that can help with the initial cost of solar panel installation.
At Solar Energy World, we want the process of solar panel installation to be as simple as possible for you. That’s why, on Saturday March 17th, we are hosting a free Solar Workshop for interested homeowners. Join us over a complementary breakfast and learn how you can go solar and start saving, today– we will even provide activities for children, so the entire family can attend.
Please RSVP by March 11th. Details and RSVP at MySolarWorkshop.com.
By Laureen Peck, Vice President of Marketing, Solar Energy World
Let’s say you have decided you want to reduce your dependency on your utilities company, have pledged to spend less on your home’s energy costs and are committed to decreasing your carbon footprint. You don’t need to be convinced that getting more of your energy from renewable sources is a responsible way for you to help end your country’s dependence on foreign oil. You also hold the fervent belief that leaving a healthier, greener world for future generations is the right thing to do. You have reviewed various clean energy options and are leaning towards solar.
The problem is that when you do a Google search, although you can see there are several solar energy companies listed for your area, they all look the same and appear to offer similar savings, financial and environmental benefits. So, how can you narrow down your choice to the solar installation company most likely to answer your very specific needs? Here are a few tips that could help save you some time;
1. Be wary of automated processes. Some solar energy panel installation companies provide a calculator or “typical” costs on their website so a homeowner can estimate their energy savings, rebates and tax credits and then sometimes “order” a solar system online. The problem with this automated approach is that in order to get a truly accurate estimate, a home solar energy expert really needs to have a conversation with the homeowner(s) and ideally come to the actual installation site so they can make sure all the elements of your home’s energy usage, roof and/or yard layout, family budget, financial goals, and your home’s current energy efficiency rating are all factored into the recommended solution. There is no question that a knowledgeable human being is more accountable and helpful than a computer can possibly be. Also, it can take time for a company to update their website, so sometimes the information shown is no longer accurate as incentives and rebates change.
Although going online to gather information is a good idea, going online to get a solar installation estimate and/or order an installation package is like going online to get a comprehensive medical checkup. A good doctor does not make a diagnosis or prescribe medications to her patients based on educated guesses. A solar installation company cannot give a homeowner a customized energy solution based on guesswork either. To make certain you are getting the best solution for your needs, it is smart to schedule a free in-home analysis with a solar energy expert, preferably from a company that also provides home energy audits and is experienced making homes more energy efficient overall.
2. Trees matter – but there are other options. It’s a myth that solar energy won’t work in colder, greyer climates. Remember when your mother told you to wear sunscreen lotion, even on the cloudy days? Mom knew that UV rays still get through the clouds. The fact is that solar works in all types of climates. If that were not true, Germany, a country certainly not known for sunny weather, would not be one of the world’s top photovoltaics (PV) installers in the world. Shade is a different matter, however. If your roof is shaded, you might need to cut down a few trees, or trim them. If you don’t want to do that, but have a good amount of property and your zoning allows it, you can still use the sun to power your home by having solar panels installed on mounts. To see an example of what pole mounted solar panels can look like, click here.
3. Good customer service is proactive, not reactive. Once you have narrowed down your selection to a specific solar energy company, make sure that company will take care of you before, during and after installation.
Prior to making a commitment, find out how much of the leg work you will have to do for yourself once you agree to buy. Will you have to be the one dealing with the utilities company or filling out all the forms for energy rebates and solar energy credits? Or will your installation company do that for you? The more the solar installation company does for you, the better. The company you choose should be the experts on all of the processes and have the most recent information about money saving options that you may not be aware of. They should also be experienced managing the bureaucracy involved with utilities so you won’t have that headache to worry about.
Also prior to installation, find out if the installers are subcontractors or actual company employees. There is nothing worse than having untrained, or barely trained installers on the job. Make sure the installers work directly for the solar installation company and are accountable to that company for their performance. Keep in mind that solar installation companies, in particular larger ones that are part of national chains, hire subcontractors most of the time so if you decide to go that way there is no assurance you will be getting the most qualified workers installing your system.
Make sure the company you hire will take care of you once you buy or lease from them. The whole point of using solar panels to power your home is that there is hardly ever a need for repairs or major services. However, there are rare times when the system goes down. In this case, it will be a lot less stressful for you if you are working with a company that not only allows you to monitor your system yourself online, but also continually monitors your system for you. What this means is that you should expect that your solar installation company will be on top of any problem that might occur and will be on their way to have it fixed before you even know there was a problem. If you bought your panels from a large solar installation retailer, it’s unlikely you will get that type of proactive service.
4. Cheapest may not really be cheaper. If you want to get the most out of your solar panels and/or feel it is your patriotic duty to get panels from an American manufacturer, do your research to make certain you are making an informed investment. Not all solar panels are equal. Your panels should be designed to absorb the most solar energy possible and have a guarantee to help increase the value of your home.
Hopefully the tips above will help you with your decision to go solar. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling us at 1-866-856-4580. You can also follow us on the official Solar Energy World Facebook page.
By Laureen Peck, Vice President of Marketing, Solar Energy World
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. Many of us just don’t “get it”. 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.
First, the American news media (and not just AM radio or Fox News) has done a terrible job of articulating how solar energy is actually a responsible energy choice for American homeowners. 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.
The marketing and advertising done by solar panel installation and solar manufacturing companies is not working as well as it could either. Aside from California based REC’s “Expose Solar” campaign, most solar installation companies have mediocre advertising that looks and sounds the same and contains a lot of technical jargon that might appeal to fellow engineers, but not so much to consumers.
I was hired by Solar Energy World recently to head up marketing and I can see that I have many communications challenges to overcome. What I have learned so far is that most consumers already understand that solar is better for the environment. Some even understand the potential for a strong return on investment that installing a home solar system on their home can bring. However, the falsehoods and misconceptions about solar energy for homeowners still dominates the discussion, dampening the enthusiasm of those who might be perfect candidates for home solar, stopping them from investigating further.
So, I will be working hard over the next years to help dispel some of the misinformation that is spewed out by the media and others who stand to benefit from keeping the status quo alive. (Stay tuned. A new ad campaign is coming soon.) In the meantime, here is a list of some of the most common falsehoods consumers hear (and many believe) every day:
FALSEHOOD: Solar Isn’t Affordable.
TRUTH: Solar PV technologies have declined in price every year since they were introduced onto the market, driven by improved research and development, and most of all by steady increases in sales volume. Every solar panel purchased makes the next one cheaper, in stark contrast to non-renewable sources, which become scarcer and more expensive with every ton burned. In addition, most states and the federal government offer generous solar rebates, tax credits and other incentives available that make it much more affordable for homeowners.
FALSEHOOD: It takes too long to get a return on my investment.
TRUTH: Homeowners will see a return on investment in a few years, not in decades.
FALSEHOOD: Solar is only a cottage industry and appeals to small niche markets.
TRUTH: The solar industry segment has been growing by more than 35% per year over the past 2 years. In 2001, PV module shipments closed in on the 400-megawatt mark, representing a $2.5 to $3 billion market. The U.S.-based industry itself is now approaching $1 billion per year and providing 25,000 jobs. It’s expected to grow to the $10-$15 billion level in the next 20 years, providing 300,000 jobs by 2025. This sustained growth exceeds that of the semiconductor industry. A market shift has sparked the recent growth in the PV industry. It has shifted from almost completely remote, off-grid, and consumer products to nearly 60% grid-connected, distributed power. And these applications don’t represent small niche markets. They represent the significant growth path for PV — the true distributed power source.
FALSEHOOD: Current solar technology will soon be outdated and I will have to pay for an upgrade.
TRUTH: 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 “GET” SOLAR? 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.
Laureen Peck: email@example.com
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