July 11th, 2012 by Guest Contributor
As energy demand worldwide increases, alternative energy sources such as solar power continue to gain popularity. There are many benefits to the science of harnessing the sun’s power in order to convert it into usable energy. Here are just a few benefits that you may, or may not, know:
- Solar panels aren’t just for powering your lights.
Did you know that you can use solar energy to heat your home and even produce hot water? According to Solar-Panel-Options.com: “In many places, a solar heating system can give a satisfactorily high percentage (usually between 50 to 75 percent) of domestic hot water energy.” Percentages like that can put an impressive dent in your monthly energy bill. For instance, if your monthly electric bill is around $150, you could save $75 to over $110 per month. The site goes on to say that, “Solar heating systems use the energy of sunlight to provide heat [that] can be used to heat water (either for shower or for washing) or a swimming pool, or to supply heat for a heating circuit (usually radiators or floor heating coils) that makes inside the house warm.”
- Solar power is as green as you can get.
It is not only a clean, natural and renewable energy source, but also is a sustainable resource that gives off no harmful emissions or greenhouse gases. And it goes without saying that harnessing the power of the sun for energy, while it may be an initial cost investment to purchase and install, after that is a completely free energy source. And did you know that all you need is a relatively decent amount of daylight to produce usable energy? A common misconception is that only traditionally sunny geographies warrant installing solar panels, but even overcast skies can produce enough sunlight to make solar panels worthwhile. (Not-so-sunny Germany is actually the #1 solar power country in the world these days, by far.)
- Solar panels are virtually maintenance-free.
With the exception of installation, solar panels are virtually maintenance-free, since they have no moving parts and since solar cells never really expire. According to Solar-Panel-Options.com, the functional lifetime of a solar panel is over 30 years (we’re not actually sure how long they tend to last, since we haven’t been manufacturing them for very long). Because they have been created to live on your roof, their durable construction makes it so nature’s elements (like hail, snow or rain) cannot harm your panels, except under the most extreme weather conditions.
- A solar-powered home is buyer-friendly.
As the solar power trend continues to gain widespread popularity, the money you put into your home to increase your home’s energy efficiency will likely pay off in the long run. Not only will it save you money on energy costs over the life of your mortgage loan, but it will also be a great selling point when the time comes to put your house on the market, as more and more home buyers are looking for eco-friendly products in their homes.
However, a solar panel system for your home doesn’t come cheap. In order to calculate when you will see your savings, you must subtract the initial investment, which includes the purchase of the panels and installation, from the amount you will save each month. Once your initial payment has been returned, you will then begin to essentially earn money on your investment. Many experts agree that the return on an investment solar paneling your house takes approximately seven years. But this depends a lot on your location (due to varying degrees of solar potential and different state and city solar incentives).
If you’re looking for a way to finance this or other more costly home projects, consider using a home equity line of credit to pay for it. An equity line of credit is a great way to use the equity you’ve built in your home to harness the power of the sun. It’s just one more way you can wisely invest in your home.
Image Credit: Solar panel installation via shutterstock
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