Solar Energy Saves Money on Your Residential Utilities

Solar energy is often indicated as a cheaper alternative to regular residential electrical use, but the savings they provide isn’t always immediately apparent. How can owning a solar panel help you lower your residential utility costs, and are these savings enough to justify the initial expense of setting up a solar array?

Solar energy offers homeowners big savings on their electric bills, though this may vary by area and the size of their solar array. Solar panels can only operate while there’s sunlight to strike them– panels set up in areas with a lot of cloudy weather, or that experience very short days for a significant portion of the year won’t provide as much electricity as panels set up in areas with consistently sunny weather. Panels that aren’t operational require homes to either draw power from backup batteries, or their local electrical grid. When panels are able to operate efficiently, however, and there are enough of them to provide for a home’s needs, then there’s virtually no need for any help from the grid; the home can depend entirely on free solar energy to power itself instead. If the panels end up producing more electricity than the home needs or is able to store in batteries, then this surplus power can even be sold back to the electric company. Not only does this mean that solar panel owners can save a lot of money on their residential utilities, it means that their panels pay for themselves over time.

Residential solar power is an important component of a renewable energy strategy. Not only can residential solar panels provide for their owners’ needs and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels or nuclear power, they can also provide for the needs of the community with the power they sell back to the grid. If you are considering a solar array and are put off by the initial setup cost, it’s worth looking into any potential rebates you might be entitled to and the potential energy savings a solar panel can give you. Not only will you lower your utility bills, you’ll be contributing to a cleaner, brighter, more sustainable future.

What is Green Living and How Do You Start?

  • If you want to make some changes to help the planet but cannot commit to becoming a full blown eco-warrior, don’t worry. Like the journey of a thousand miles, one step makes a difference. In fact, there are several small steps that anyone can take toward a greener lifestyle. If everyone adopted just a few, the combined effect could pull our global resource depletion rate out of its death spiral. The good news is that you do not have to adopt them all. Pick a few that fit inside your comfort zone and budget. Once they become habits, revisit your options and try a few more. The point is to become more aware of the greener choices that are available and then make them yours.

    The heart of green living is understanding that the world’s resources are limited and that our consumer choices of everyday items represent tiny depletions in long resource chains. It is easy to see the benefits of going green in our utility bills, so we install compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). The immediate benefit is to the household budget, but the global impact is reducing our carbon footprint.

    Most homes have adopted CFLs, so they now seem like a standard consumer choice. An alternative choice for going green might be to dedicate one day a week to enjoying meatless meals. The actual amount of water and grain that ranchers use to produce one pound of meat is hotly debated. However, if you study the water, grain and petroleum required to raise a pound of meat, it takes fewer of these resources to produce the same number of calories of grain. Does this mean that bread tastes better than steak? No, it means that by choosing to go meatless one day a week that you are consuming fewer global resources. It is taking one green step.

    Some green steps and the global resources they save:
    • Save energy – Reduces global carbon footprint. Includes: lower your thermostat, use CFLs, dry clothes on a rack or clothesline, weatherize doors and windows. See your local utility service for more ideas.
    • Save water – Water is a limited resource. Includes: take shorter showers, install low-flow shower heads, use aerators on all faucets.
    • Recycle – Landfill space is a disappearing resource.
    • Compost food and yard waste – The EPA estimates 20 to 30 percent of household waste could be diverted from landfills. Use it on your garden.
    • Buy locally – Transporting goods shorter distances consumes less petroleum and reduces carbon emissions.
    • Buy used goods – Saves money and, if purchased locally, petroleum and emissions. Saves landfill space.
    • Bottle your own water – The bottles are made from plastic. In addition to the petroleum in the plastic, it takes a lot of energy to make the bottles. Saves water, petroleum, energy, and shipping.
    • Grow your own food – The food from a single container-grown vegetable saves transportation and tastes better, too!

    Green living is understanding that one person’s total lifetime consumption cannot affect the world’s resources. Green living is also understanding that every consumer choice we make is an opportunity to save our planet. As individuals, we cannot do it all. As individuals dedicated to daily taking the small green steps before us, we can collectively go the distance. Pick a step from this list and take it. Do it again. Research other steps that might fit your life and take those too. You will be green before you know it.