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Solar-Powered Homes Posted by Blueviper on March 15, 2004

Solar-powered home owners can sleep easy all summer. And it’s only simply because they can keep their houses cool without paying outrageously large electricity bills. Rather, by solar power systems, which rely on roof-top solar panels to convert sunlight directly into electricity, a homeowner can, depending on the time of year and the climate in which they live, cover their monthly energy bill and in some cases, even sell what energy they don't use back to the grid. This is due in large part to state and federal subsidies, which homeowners are increasingly embracing. Residential solar installations have tripled since 2002, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group for solar energyrelated businesses. Installing a solar energy system is cost effective and in some cases, capital costs equal just under a few years worth of household energy costs. Silicon, the primary material used in converting sunlight to energy, is not that expensive. What’s more, most utilities cap the amount of juice they’ll buy from residential suppliers at around two kilowatts. In most areas, this is enough to power a 2,000-square-foot home and sell a surplus back to the grid at peak energy points.

Environmentally Friendly Extras Many find going green pays off. One of the many benefits is the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005. It grants a one-time 30% of cost tax credit to homeowners installing photovoltaic solar power panels. Here are some related stories: Additional incentives are available on the state level. Got a home in New Jersey, Tennessee or California? You’re in luck. All offer hefty bonuses for homeowners using solar energy. The vast majority of the solar PV installations occurring in the U.S. at present are in California and New Jersey, Many other states also have aggressive programs to encourage solar photovoltaics, but the results in California and New Jersey probably deserve particular note. California’s 2006 Solar Initiative provides $800 million in rebates over 11 years to homeowners using PV solar systems, and, upon its passing, called for 500,000 new home solar systems to be included in the state’s net metering program, which allows homeowners to sell energy back to the grid. The results thus far? Sunny California is perhaps the perfect place to invest in solar power. The SEIA reports that 73% of new solar systems installed nationwide last year were in California. New Jersey’s program offers rebates based on wattage capacity, meaning that the more juice your system can generate, the more the subsidy is worth. There, the number of


residential solar power-generated systems accounted for 13% of those newly installed nationwide. Not bad for a small state. New Jersey added five times as much solar wattage last year as neighboring New York. Further south, the Tennessee Valley Authority offers a one-time $500 disbursement and 15 cent per kilowatt payment for residences generating surplus power. As a point of reference, the retail outfits that buy from the TVA charge customers about 7.5 cents for power, meaning that if it’s a sunny summer in the South, a solar-powered home can net a homeowner a decent profit in what effectively amounts to a subsidy. Another strategy states are implementing to increase solar energy use is to make attractive the building of solar systems directly. Austin Energy, a community owned utility in Austin, Texas, offers low-interest, no-fee loans up to $20,000 for the purchase and installation of PV solar systems, payable over 10 years with no prepayment penalties.

Earth-Friendly Economics It should be noted that most solar powered houses do not completely power a home through all seasons. If one season and part of two have extremely cold weather and are usually only part of an energy generating system, which often includes geothermal energy systems. To achieve a net-zero rating, a home must use less energy during energy generation months than the surplus it creates in peak months. This is a small challenge to do, if you live in extremely cold weather. It is also difficult for residents in some areas to gain any kind of benefit from surplus solar power. Ten states do not require utilities to offer net-metering to customers. Missouri and South Carolina are among them. Others, like Nevada, do not require utilities to compensate customer generated energy. Different organizations are working to change that at the present time.

Solar powered homes  
Solar powered homes  

This article is about how solar powered pays for itself and can even pay you back at the end the year. Solar powered home owners can sleep e...

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