Compared to other nonrenewable and renewable energy sources, solar power is the cleanest and most bountiful renewable way to provide power. The impact of solar energy is widespread and growing in its creation of jobs, economic benefits for homeowners and the overall environmental advantages it presents for our planet.
By using solar energy, you'll become grid-independent and environmentally conscious and see a positive impact on your electric bill at the end of every month. Learn about the opportunities solar presents for your energy needs while helping you reduce your carbon footprint.
This type of energy is harnessed through either photovoltaics (PV), solar heating and cooling (SHC) or concentrated solar power (CSP).
SHC and CSP use heat generated by the sun to provide water heating or run electricity-generating turbines such as CSP power plants.
PVs generate electricity directly from sunlight to power anything from small appliances to lighting. PV solar systems are most often used to power homes, involving cell technology gathering the sun's energy to produce electricity. Each PV solar panel consists of individual solar cells.
To understand how PV harnesses the power of the sun’s rays, you'll need to understand fundamental physics:
The process of converting sunlight to electricity with PV looks like this:
Different PV solar panels use materials that can affect their cost and effectiveness, so it's essential to discuss these factors with your solar company before installing solar technology in your home.
The benefits of solar power are endless. Many Americans see the advantages solar energy presents for the environment and economy. In 2019, a survey found that 46% of American homeowners had given serious thought to adding solar panels to their houses. That number is expected to grow as people become more educated about solar energy’s environmental and financial benefits.
This section will include solar energy pros, explicitly highlighting its positive financial and environmental impact.
The benefits of solar energy for the environment are endless. This form of renewable power can replace and reduce nonrenewable energy sources that are detrimental to the environment, making it essential for protecting our planet in the long run.
Most of our country’s energy comes from fossil fuels like natural gas and coal. The United States contributes to about 28% of gas emissions on a global scale. The process of extracting fossil fuels is costly, creates pollution and eventually depletes resources.
When fossil fuels burn, they emit carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, creating air pollution and an unsafe and unhealthy environment. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that solar technology currently installed across the U.S. can counterbalance up to 127 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
Using solar energy decreases pollution by reducing greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide and making the planet a cleaner and safer place to live.
If your energy source doesn't use fossil fuels, it might rely on water.
The issue with hydropower and nuclear energy is how much water they require to create electricity. Plus, hydropower plants often build dams to control the water source and create electricity, disrupting and harming the surrounding ecosystem. Further, mining to extract fossil fuels require millions of gallons of water, leading to scarcity in water-stressed areas of the world.
Luckily, solar energy produces electricity without water and won't affect plant and animal species. After installation, it sustains itself through the sun and can eliminate water scarcity while allowing a healthier ecosystem.
A solar energy system will produce around 50 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour during its early years of operation. That's much less than coal-powered electricity sources. As a result, you'll immediately reduce your carbon footprint after installing solar energy in your home.
Typically, you'll need to have solar panels producing power for three years before they become carbon neutral and pay off their carbon debt. But after a few years, your carbon footprint will lessen even more before becoming carbon neutral.
In general, solar panels last over 20 years, keeping a significant amount of carbon out of the atmosphere.
One of the most significant benefits of solar energy use is that it results in few air pollutants. Therefore, it contributes less to climate change than nonrenewable energy sources. As a result, we can experience fewer effects of climate change, such as random natural disasters, that contribute to poor air quality.
The U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy estimates that we could save 25,000-59,000 lives by switching to solar energy because of the positive effects it has on human health.
As stated, greenhouse gases lead to rising global temperatures and climate change. The pollutants and CO2 in the atmosphere caused by fossil fuels harm the air we breathe, and when carbon counts rise, temperatures can rise and fall at unprecedented and unpredictable rates.
Changing air conditions will cause some climates to become increasingly warm or cool, and we'll experience random weather patterns across the globe. Due to changes in weather, natural disasters may become more prevalent — wildfires, floods and other severe weather events will impact communities worldwide in new ways.
Climatologists have compiled experiments, climate models and extensive research that supports our need for renewable energy in the face of climate change. By installing clean and sustainable energy sources like solar power, we can eliminate the harmful effects that fossil fuel emissions have on our environment and mitigate climate change.
The economic benefits of solar power are far-reaching. The solar industry provides a proven boost in jobs throughout the U.S. In fact, solar jobs increased 167% over the last decade, five times faster than the overall job growth rate in the U.S. economy.
While economic benefits of solar panels are felt throughout the U.S., smaller-scale financial benefits can convince homeowners to make the switch.
Studies reveal that people view solar panels as home upgrades, similar to a renovated bathroom or finished basement. Did you know that homebuyers will pay $15,000 more for a home with solar? According to a Zillow study, solar panels increase a home's value by up to 4.1% more.
When you install solar panels on your property, the value of your home increases, allowing future investment opportunities.
Both low and predictable electric bills associated with home solar panels and a battery can offer independence from utility companies. When you use solar power, you'll avoid peak electricity rates and have a backup power source if the grid goes down.
Often, solar service agreements provide low rates that are more affordable than your utility company's rates, so you can expect to pay a lower average monthly cost for electricity when you go solar. Storing excess power in a solar battery allows you to reduce your costs even more.
Based on where you live, you can cover a substantial portion of the cost of your solar system. Because of the federal solar tax credit, state tax exemptions, net metering and more, you may even pay it back in a relatively short amount of time:
The average cost for home solar panels has fallen more than 70% in the last decade. The price of a rooftop solar panel was around $3.50 per watt 14 years ago. Today, installations cost as low as $0.40.
The Asia Europe Clean Energy Advisory (AECEA) predicts that solar panel prices will continue to fall globally due to technological advancements, increased demand for clean energy, efficiency gains and more.
Additional lesser-known benefits of installing solar energy have to do with the cost of transport, battery backup sources for weather emergencies and other advantages you might not have realized existed.
Due to an outdated and aging power grid, the U.S. has the highest number of power outages in any developed nation. Fortunately, solar-powered home batteries give you coverage during the next blackout by storing energy from the sun for later use. This way, you don't have to spend money on powering a gas- or diesel-powered generator.
When you invest in a hybrid solar panel system, you reap the benefits of the sun's energy while using backup batteries for emergencies.
The ease of installation means companies can install solar panels almost anywhere. These systems take advantage of both vertical and horizontal spaces to facilitate the installation of small-scale projects. With solar panels, you can have electricity in remote locations where it might be unfeasible to install power lines.
Additionally, you can choose to expand your solar installation at any time, depending on your personal energy needs. If you decide you need more power, experts can install more panels or a backup battery alongside your solar panel system to allow extra power usage in the future.
Just as it's essential to learn about the exciting advantages of solar panels in your home, you'll want to know about possible challenges before installation.
Depending on your home and budget needs, the cons of solar panels include:
The benefits of solar energy are evident — solar panels help the health of humanity and secure a safer future for our planet. Homeowners can reap the financial advantages of installing solar on their property while reducing their carbon footprint.
S&H Solar is a one-stop-shop for all of your solar needs. We work with you on initial property evaluation, answering your essential questions and providing lifetime solar maintenance after installation. Our company will work with you to decide on the solar energy system for your financial and energy needs.
You might have misconceptions about how solar energy works due to misinformation. S&H Solar reveals the truth about common solar myths. Learn more here!