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 Samantha J. Majka
At Solar Energy World, we focus on bettering the planet. Usually, and most obviously, this is through the installation of solar power systems. In addition, under the umbrella of creating a better, greener planet, falls community outreach. This year, for Earth Day, Solar Energy World partnered with two Maryland schools for events that focused on educating students about the facts and benefits of solar power.
Solar Energy World representatives visited Eagle Cove School in Pasadena on Tuesday April 24th, and St. Joseph School in Cockeysville on April 25th. Students participated in a presentation by Jose Cespedes, Solar Analyst, and then competed in a race with solar powered race cars that they had built themselves.
The presentations consisted of an educational speech, a small experiment, and a question and answer session. Students also passed around mini versions of the solar panels that Solar Energy World installs on homes and buildings. We were particularly impressed with the excellent questions posed by student participants!
The second half of the events was especially exciting, as students and teachers moved outside for the solar car race. A week before the event, Solar Energy World provided solar powered race car kits to both schools, and teams of students assembled and decorated their cars. The winning teams from both schools received a prize of a pizza party provided by Solar Energy World.
Please visit Solar Energy World on Facebook to see more pictures and video of the races. A special thank you goes out to the staff of Eagle Cove School and St. Joseph School for inviting us to participate in their Earth Day celebrations.
Frank Difatta owner of Carroll County based Belisimos Italian Restaurant turned to Solar Energy World, Maryland’s fastest growing solar energy systems provider to help him reduce operating expenses and his carbon footprint at the same time. It was an innovative and forward-thinking solution and Solar Energy World, was up for the job. Solar Energy World began designing a solar installation plan for Belisimos in late 2011.
Construction began on January 2, 2012 and in only five days, Solar Energy World finished installation of nearly 3,740 square feet of solar panels on the restaurant’s roof. In addition to experiencing a speedy and painless installation process, Diafatta now stands to save $35,000 per year and to generate a strong return on investment year after year.
According to Geoff Mirkin, Vice President and Managing Partner for Solar Energy World, his company’s record growth can be attributed to customers like Difatta who care about their impact on the environment and can appreciate the exceptional customer service that Solar Energy World can bring to the table. Mirkin says his company offers a higher level of expertise and better value than many of its larger competitors who are not always locally based and often subcontract installers. “Solar Energy World’s installation teams have more than 74 years of combined roofing and electrical experience and are employed directly by our company. This ensures they are held accountable for every job they do. Our customers can rest assured they will be well taken care of.”
“We aren’t the Walmart of Solar and we don’t want to be.” states Laureen Peck, Vice President of Marketing. “We believe in providing discerning homeowners and business owners like Frank, with quality work coupled with an easy process. In addition to dealing with utilities’ paperwork and procedures for our customers, all of our installations are done by actual Solar Energy World employees who take pride in their work.”
Diafatta sums it up this way, “The Solar Energy World guys made it really easy for me to go green and make more green at the same time.”
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
Follow us on the official Solar Energy World Facebook page.
If you’re considering adding photovoltaic solar panels to your residence or commercial project, here’s some good news: research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found “strong evidence that California homes with photovoltaic systems have sold for a premium over comparable homes without PV systems.”
In an April 21 article, the New York Times shared that researchers looked at both homes with photovoltaic systems and homes without in California over an eight-and-a-half-year period ending in mid-2009. This is great news for those concerned that they’ll have to use their solar panels for many years before seeing a return on investment.
If you’re installing solar panels, you may get an even bigger bang for your buck. The study found that homeowners who install solar panels on existing houses get nearly three times the premium of homeowners whose house came with solar panels. You’re investing in a valuable upgrade for your home, and the market value will reflect that.
To read more on the study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, visit: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/study-finds-solar-panels-increase-home-values/?partner=rss&emc=rss
You most likely knew that April 22nd was Earth Day but did you know that the month of April is “Earth Month”?
Many events were held all over Maryland (even one of our own!) where people celebrated green jobs, clean energy, organic gardening, recycling and much more. Here are a few highlights around town:
Elkridge Solar Firm Launches Nonprofit Coalition to Lobby for More Clean Energy
Solar Energy World became convinced that community activism would have to be part of their business strategy before their rooftop solar panels would gain wide acceptance. In short, they realized they had to first win the hearts and minds of voters if clean energy–principally solar, geothermal and wind–would garner the same tax incentives oil and coal companies received.
Read more about Solar Energy World and the launch of the Clean Energy Coalition>>
To learn more about the Clean Energy Coalition>>
Here is a clip from the press conference with Solar Energy World guests, Maryland Delegate James Malone and Jim Pierobon from the Maryland Clean Energy Center:
BWI Gets Eight Electric Vehicle Charging Stations for Earth Day
Gov. Martin O’Malley celebrated Earth Day on Friday by announcing the installation of eight electric vehicle charging stations at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Read more about the BWI EV Charging Stations>>
All over Montgomery County Earth Day was being celebrated! – brought to you by Patch
Congressman Chris Van Hollen and professional artists from Montgomery County stressed the importance of art to young people and to the community as VisArts at Rockville hosted an awards ceremony for the 8th Congressional District Art Competition for High School Students on Tuesday.
A new community garden will give 50 families the chance to grow and harvest their own food. County Executive Isiah Leggett, as well as community and religious leaders, were on hand at the Emory Grove garden to break ground on Saturday..
On this 100th annual International Women’s Day, take a moment to celebrate the amazing women in your life. Indeed, there are also many women doing extraordinary things for the environment around the world! From Vandana Shiva to Wangari Maathai, women around the world are spearheading green efforts, making Mother Earth proud!
Also, read up on how working on behalf of the environment AND women are not only mutually beneficial, they can be simultaneous and immediate. For example, the impact of small-scale farming on women in sub-Saharan Africa aids in women’s economic enfranchisement and therefore the advancing of social and economic equality.
Take a look at what women in rural India are doing to fight climate change, how contraceptives benefit women and the environment, and learn more about this year’s theme: Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.
Read what U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said about this year’s International Women’s Day, and find out what you can do to advance women’s empowerment worldwide through the award-winning The Girl Effect, and visit Care International (of post-WWII care package fame) to learn about more initiatives benefiting women and girls worldwide.
If a 12-year old girl can help save the world in rural India, so can you!
Interested in solar but want to learn more? Feel free to attend one of our upcoming local solar workshops!
- Thurs., March 10 at 6 PM: Green Drinks Columbia at Ranazul, 8171 Maple Lawn Blvd., Maple Lawn MD 20759… Come to learn about solar in a short presentation and mingle with eco-minded folks. The first 20 people get a free drink and we are raffling off a free energy audit! Bring friends and get more chances to win!
- Thurs., March 24 at 7 PM: King Farm Community Workshop, 300 Saddle Ridge Circle, Rockville, MD 20850… Learn about how affordable solar power can be in a workshop tailored to Montgomery County residents, and specifically King Farm.
- Mon., April 18 from 8 AM to 4 PM: Towson University. In this community sustainability conference, come and learn about solar energy, local environmental initiatives, and hear from students and faculty about Towson’s efforts at going green!
- Thurs., April 21 at 6:30 PM: Anne Arundel County’s Quiet Waters Park Lecture Series. Visit this workshop to learn about our efforts in the community in Anne Arundel County, and for more information on solar power for residents and business owners.
They are all free! Hope to see you soon, and please feel free to forward widely.
For our online, on-demand solar energy workshop, please visit our tutorial!
For more information on any of these workshops, or to submit an idea for a future venue, contact Evin Phoenix, Community Outreach Coordinator at ePhoenix@solareworld.com
Earlier this week, President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address and touched on the topic of clean energy. Here are some excerpts we found particularly interesting:
We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology — an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.
… We’re not just handing out money. We’re issuing a challenge. We’re telling America’s scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo projects of our time.
… We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if — I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.
Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80 percent of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources.
We’re excited to have greater backing and encouragement of solar energy in 2011 and moving forward. We accept the President’s challenge and will continue to meet the highest standards of solar energy production – for you and for our environment.
In the spirit of the upcoming 10/10/10 Global Work Party, we’ve gathered together some environmental tips, facts, and other information we can all do right away to help reduce our carbon footprint.
So, what is global warming and why is it such a big deal? The folks at 350.org tell us “Global warming is caused by releasing what are called greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The most common greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. Many of the activities we do every day like turn the lights on, cook food, or heat or cool our homes rely on the combustion of fossil fuels like coal and oil, which emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases when burned. This is a major problem because global warming destabilizes the delicate balance that makes life on this planet possible. ”
To some “going green” feels like a undertaking but we’ve gathered some information about what you can do to curb your carbon footprint and work towards a greener planet – and some are rather simple, really. Here they are:
10 Green Home Improvement Resolutions You Must Make Right Now
Why not make some resolutions now that will help you lower your carbon footprint and increase the energy-efficiency of your home throughout the winter and for years to come. You know what they say, “If you can’t change yourself, you can at least change the environment in which you live.” Nobody actually says that…
15 Ways to Practice Water Conservation at Home
Water is a precious commodity, and Americans and Canadians use more water per capita than people in any other part of the world. A lot of the water we use is wasted, but you can save a lot of water between simple adjustments…
Interview With The Authors of The Carbon-Free Home
This beautiful two-story house produces enough energy to fill all of their energy needs and is outfitted with all kinds of ingenious projects straight from their book. In front, a garden grows everything from artichokes to pomegranates, while chickens roam around in the backyard.
Wanting to learn more about how you can reduce your carbon footprint?
Join us at the Kentlands 350 Global Work Party.
When: Sunday, October 10th, 10:00am – 11:30am
Location: Whole Foods Market Cafe – 316 Kentlands Blvd., Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Pre-register for Kentlands 350 Global Work Party
What is Kentlands 350?
Let’s celebrate climate solutions. Join Whole Foods Market, Solar Energy World and Greenavise at a 10/10/10 Global Work Party. Learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint by powering your home with 100% renewable solar power and teach your children the importance of the number 350 through an art project.