No doubt you’ve heard plenty about solar power but always thought it was too expensive, aside from minor uses in the now popular garden lighting systems. However, with fuel prices climbing and solar cells becoming more reasonable, adding solar power to your home is a great, long term solution to high energy bills.
That isn’t to say they’re cheap. Before rebates, it typically takes 12 or more years for a homeowner to make their investment in solar panels back. That’s much longer than the average person is willing to wait. However, many countries now offer rebates, so the final cost to the homeowner is much less than it used to be. The rebates vary from state to state, so it’s difficult to say how much of an impact they have overall. There may also be federal incentives.
Solar panels are also steadily becoming more efficient. They produce more energy than they used to. They require relatively little maintenance, many of which you may be able to do yourself. This helps to make them very cost effective.
Solar power is much, much cheaper than it used to be, as prices have fallen by 90% since the 1970s. That doesn’t make it cheap – yet! In some countries however, the incentives given to install solar energy cuts the overall cost to the homeowner about in half.
To decide if solar energy is right for you, take some basic figures into consideration.
- Check your energy consumption. You need to know how big a system you will need to power your home. Make sure you consider your highest consumption levels and the possibility that it will grow somewhat.
- Find out how much a photovoltaic system to meet your need will cost you. The size will depend both on your energy need and on the available sunlight (solar resource) in your area.
- Find out what rebates and incentives are available to you to help decrease your costs.
- Consider whether your system will be on the grid or off. On the grid has the advantage that you can sell when you have an excess and buy electricity when you don’t have enough, while with an off the grid system you have a battery to store your excess.
- Consider what the environmental benefits are worth to you. This is a personal factor rather than a direct economic one. It won’t save you money, but knowing that you’re contributing a little less to pollution might change how you feel about the expense.
Choosing to use solar power in your home is an investment you can appreciate on many levels. Over a number of years it will save you money as you generate environmentally friendly energy. It’s not cheap to get started, but when you combine the environmental benefits with decreasing your reliance on fuel costs you can certainly appreciate the possibilities.
With the current state of affairs of many countries like South Africa, as far as electricity suppliers are concerned (i.e. Escom), it is wise to get self sufficient in electricity as much as possible – also reducing costs in years to come.