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Solar energy is one of the most convenient renewable energies; it’s easy to procure, convert, and use, and setting up solar panels in your home is relatively low-cost and hassle-free, compared to installing wind turbines in the back garden. Solar power in any form will help to reduce your energy bills, reduce your carbon footprint and, in the long run, save you a lot of money.
There are two ways to run your home with solar power; one is to convert sunlight into electricity using photovoltaics (PVs), and the other is to heat your home (or water) using solar water heating (SWH) methods. Both forms of solar power will reduce your energy bills substantially; one by partially contributing to your use of electricity, and the other by contributing to your hot water supply, and lowering your heating costs.
Of course, you don’t have to choose between the two – it’s possible to install both forms of solar energy, which will reduce your energy bills even further than just installing one might. There are huge benefits to both methods, though some people may find that one or the other works better for them. You also don’t need to be too concerned about levels of sunlight; you might get a better return on your investment if you live in Florida than in Chicago, but everywhere in the US gets adequate sunlight to make solar power an efficient source of renewable energy.
What benefits do both methods share?
- Both solar power and solar water heating will save you money on your energy bills. Any energy you generate from your solar panels, whether it’s electricity or heat energy, will be utterly free – so this means you’re spending less on energy from other sources.
- Cut your carbon footprint. Energy sourced from the sun is replenished every single day, and doesn’t cause any damage to the environment; it’s both sustainable and harmless.
- Protection against future energy cost hikes. With prices of fossil fuels rising every day, when you’re supplying part of your own energy needs you’re not just saving yourself money now, but protecting yourself from future rises in costs.
- Increase your home value. For all of the above reasons, potential buyers will see the benefits of having solar panels already installed in a new home; they’ll have lower energy bills and they won’t have to install the panels themselves – so they’ll see that your home is worth more than other similar homes they’re considering.
- Some states will give tax rebates and subsidies to households purchasing solar panels, as an extra incentive to ‘go green’ and switch to renewable energies. These won’t last forever, so it’s best to act soon.
Why might I choose solar power over hot water?
- If you generate more solar electricity than you use, it’ll get sent back to the grid. This means that you’re contributing towards powering other people’s home. The government will pay you money for any electricity that get sent back to the grid – so with solar electricity, you can not only make a saving, but a small profit, too.
- Generally speaking, it’s estimated that you’ll save more money on your energy bills every year with Solar PVs than with SWH panels – perhaps even up to twice the amount.
Why might I choose solar hot water over power?
- Guarantees hot water throughout the year. Even when your electricity is cut out, you can still get hot water if you’re backed up by an SWH panel. Depending on levels of sunshine, SWH can provide all the hot water that a household needs, all year round.
- The installation of SWH panels is slightly less costly than the installation of solar PVs. While PVs might get you bigger savings on your energy bills, SWH panels are a better option for those looking to make a smaller investment, with less disposable savings.