Solar energy and passive solar = more savings

solar energy
modern sustainable design

A well designed solar energy system is the place to start saving money on your electric bills. But it doesn’t stop there.  There are passive solar features that can be retrofitted into your current home as part of a remodeling project.

There is growing interest in creating homes and other types of buildings that are easier and more efficient to maintain at comfortable temperatures so that reduces energy use and more saving is possible. If you are willing to make and investment and a commitment to using more passive solar energy, consider creating a sunroom or a sun space along that wall of your home.

A sunroom or a sunspace is an enclosed area designed to capture and utilize sunlight. In the past, such spaces were commonly used for additional casual living space. Today, homeowners are seeing these spaces as a means of capturing passive solar along south facing walls. When carefully designed for this purpose, sunrooms produce heat that is vented back into the primary residence.

An architect or designer who is a specialist in this type of project can design a system that uses vents and other air movement techniques to move the warm air from the sunspace into the interior of your home. In the ideal situation, air circulation is accomplished without mechanical devices. However, if that proves to be inadequate or impractical, fans and other methods can circulate air as needed.

The passive solar captured during cold winter months is a benefit, but keep in mind that the space will capture heat year-round. In the summer months, an awning, shades, etc., will need to be installed to combat the effect of sun on south facing glass. It is also important to consider factors such as humidity and how the space will be used so that appropriate features are included in the design. For example, using a few plants in the room is recommended, but too many will raise the humidity and reduce or even eliminate the passive solar potential of the room.

The use of solar energy is being improved year after year with the advancements in technology. Scientists and researchers are discovering new ways to use solar power to the fullest.

As the technology continues to improve, there is little doubt that solar will offer more opportunity for improving the efficiency and comfort of our homes.

A solar consultation is the first step to taking advantage of the savings available.

Photo (c) aNdreas Schindl

Saving Money with Solar

saving money with solar
Saving more money with solar is possible

Saving money is the primary reason to go solar, and it starts with solar panels to lower utility bills. Photo voltaic solar panels are the most frequently used method for actively harnessing the suns energy and converting it into electricity.

A well-designed solar panel array with a battery back up system can significantly reduce electric bills. But it doesn’t stop there.

In addition to using solar panels to generate electricity, there are many ways to increase the impact of your investment in solar that will also enhance the comfort and appeal of your home.

As with any type of solar energy investment, the place to start is scheduling a solar consultation to assess your current situation. From there, you can determine what provides the quickest path to reaching your goals.

Did you know that your windows play a key role in how efficiently you use energy resources to heat and cool your home?

In creating a more energy efficient home, taking stock of your windows is a first step. Make sure that you have the right type of windows, that they are in good repair, that weather stripping is installed and that any leaks are sealed. When windows basics are all covered, there are a wide variety of products available to help windows do their job of regulating the amount of air and sunlight that enters your home.

Awnings are a great way to regulate the amount of sunlight that enters your home. Modern materials and design features can be used to make awnings attractive and adjustable, so they deliver maximum protection against the elements.

In summer, awnings block sun from entering the home and increasing the temperature. In winter, allowing additional sunlight in can raise room temperatures and bring in needed light. Especially for south and west facing windows, awnings are a cost-effective way to reduce cooling costs and increase interior comfort, too

Window screens can help reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches interior spaces in summer. In winter, when having more heat and light is desired, screens can be stored away. In hot, sunny climates like we have here in Texas, window screens can make a big difference in cooling cost and home comfort, too. Storm panels and shutters offer another adjustable option to control heating and cooling loss around windows. In warm climates, the problem most homeowners need to address is controlling sunlight and stopping the loss of cool air produced by the HVAC system.

Exterior features like awnings, shutters, solar screens and storm panels help reduce the amount of energy needed by the HVAC system. Drapes, blinds and other elements of window design and décor can all play a part in making your home both more comfortable while saving money with solar.

Saving money with solar starts with a consultation – schedule one now!

Solar Power in 2018

solar power 2018
Solar power will grow in 2018 Photo: (c) rf123.com nk2549

Solar power will continue to expand in 2018. Why? Because solar power delivers benefits to both businesses and consumers. At the same time, leaders and visionaries around the world are dedicated to continuing the development of the technology necessary to improve the delivery of affordable, renewable, clean energy to communities around the world.

Here are a few stories, from our local area and around the world, that point to what’s on the horizon for solar energy around the world.

Just a few months ago, weather related disaster in both the Houston area and Puerto Rico brought intense focus on how important development of multiple energy resources and technology is.

  • In Houston, solar has gained traction in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey when many residents realized the wisdom of having a back up system of solar and storage.
  • In the face of complete destruction of the electric grid, Tesla stepped in completed a major solar project in record time. Before the storm, Puerto Rico’s electricity consumers paid high rates for electricity that was notoriously unreliable. Now, they see an opportunity to start over and reinvent their electric service.

Development of new storage technology is a critical factor in making solar energy both more efficient and more available. In terms of business opportunity, the development of improved solar and wind energy storage has tremendous potential for investors. There is significant research and development focused in this area. Currently, some innovators are working on improving the lithium ion battery while others are searching for other materials that will more effectively store energy produced from solar and wind.

Distributed solar – residential and commercial buildings equipped with solar panels – is now seen as an alternative to adding additional capacity to the grid. That’s because the peak hours of solar energy production coincide with the peak hours of energy use. Solar panels on homes and businesses are helping utilities to make the same level of service available by smoothing out the peaks and valleys of energy supply and demand. Austin Energy recently received a $4.3 million-dollar grant from the Department of Energy to bring more distributed solar to the Austin area.

Solar energy has advanced significantly in recent years and it is still a relatively new technology. As time goes by and the technology improves, more benefits and even greater potential has become evident.

Will you add the savings and other benefits of solar power to your plan for 2018? Schedule a solar consultation today.

Solar electricity and solar panels reimagined

solar electricity from panels
Engineers, scientists and advocates bring solar future into focus

Solar electricity is more attractive than ever as solar panels and the components used to convert the sun’s energy into cost-efficient, renewable and clean power are rapidly becoming more efficient and more cost effective for the typical residential and commercial customer.

But, in addition to the brightest minds that are currently concentrated on developing more efficient photo voltaic panels and battery and storage systems that are more effective, engineers, designers and renewable energy advocates are also working on projects that push the boundaries of what solar panels and solar electricity  are currently used for.

Here are three examples of projects currently making headlines:

Emirates Insolaire, a joint venture between companies in Dubai and Switzerland, is producing solar panels in colors like gold, terracotta and gold. The company as also liberated the solar panels from the roof, installing them as part of the buildings façade and other design elements, too. While the company markets the panels with an eye toward esthetics, these products meet productivity standards, too.

It seems natural that as solar panels increase in visual appeal, they will gain wider adoption. Source: http://bit.ly/GineersNow

A scientist in California is developing a device that allows solar panels to collect light from the sun and to filter water out of the air, providing both solar electricity and clean water to the home! The device uses nano-materials to capture water vapor while the solar panels condense it and minerals purify it. The developer of the system, known as Zero Mass, may hold the keys to providing clean drinking water for communities in the United States and around the world. http://bit.ly/ForbesZeroMass

While some scientist and thought leaders are thinking on a grand scale, someone must put their ideas to the test. A father/son pair from England are doing just that, setting off on a 600-mile journey to Antarctica, powered only by solar electricity and wood-chip biomass fuel. Solar panels and a device developed by NASA will allow them to melt water for cooking and drinking. Their aim is to prove that renewable energy is reliable and efficient enough to allow them to successfully complete their trip. http://bit.ly/Reuters_trek

As 2017 ends, the future of solar energy seems brighter than ever. Schedule a solar consultation today and start creating your renewable energy future now.

Residential solar storage necessary to reach energy goals

Residential solar storage is one of the keys to increasing the use of solar energy. Solar storage, provided by battery systems, makes energy produced during sunny days available so that it can be used at night and on days when sunshine is limited.

Using current technology, it’s possible for homeowners to customize the residential solar power system so that the solar energy they generate can be used in emergencies. To get the best coverage, a qualified solar consultant can help.

Here are a few things to consider in designing a residential solar storage (battery back-up) system

  • How much capacity does each battery provide, or how many kilowatt hours of energy can be stored?
  • What is the batteries power rating? This tells you how much power the battery can deliver at one time.

The answer to these two questions is used to determine how many batteries are needed to reach your goals. Residential solar batteries are designed to be highly customization to individual needs. For example, if your goal is to keep a few crucial appliances running for a long time, then your residential solar storage system should have higher capacity and a lower power rating. However, if you need to keep all your appliances running for a short time, then lower capacity and a higher power rating would be recommended.

An additional factor to consider in designing your residential solar storage system is the depth of discharge (dod) of the batteries. Dod is shorthand for how much of the battery capacity will be available. The depth of discharge also determines how long your batteries will last before they need to be replaced. The dod of the batteries in your system are a critical factor in how well your system meets your needs.

In designing your system, your solar consultant will provide you with choices that match your goals, along with information about expected life of and warranties for all components in your system.

In 2017, much of the research related to solar power generation is aimed at reducing the cost of storage of solar generated power. The Austin SHINES program is part of that effort. Of course, SHINES is an acronym – it’s shorthand for Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV. This initiative, funded by the Department of Energy, is aimed at improving storage and other technologies so that Texas and other states can take advantage of their abundant solar resources. The potential for our state is huge, with most cities across the state receiving approximately 200 days of sunshine per year.

Get started now in taking advantage of that abundant energy by scheduling a solar consultation.

Photo copyright: zstockphotos

Solar investment makes good sense

Solar investment is growing as residents, business and cities alike find that renewable energy makes sense. Texas is becoming a leader in solar energy, adding solar capacity that includes residential solar rooftops, large infrastructure projects and major businesses making significant investments in solar energy.

Though solar and other renewable energy sources may initially attract attention because of environmental concerns, it is their bottom line impact that is most frequently sited when the decision is made to invest in renewable energy. Helping to reduce pollution and contributing to a cleaner environment are secondary to the economic benefits.

Across Texas, cities are recognizing the power of solar to save their residents and businesses money on their electric bills. In addition to Austin, here are some other Texas cities that have recently made headlines for their commitment to or exploration of the benefits of going solar.

Houston was recently recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as a Green Power Partner for their initiative that incorporates renewable energy into the cities electric utility program. With the aim of saving Houstonians money on their monthly bills, the city created a plan to use both wind energy and solar investment to save over $1.9 million dollars during the life of the project.

Georgetown, Texas has made numerous headlines in recent years as they invested in solar and wind production facilities. For this Texas city just north of Austin, a rational evaluation of all the alternatives showed that investing in the production of wind and solar would be the best way to manage the cost of energy over the coming decades. Like residential consumers, the city decided to invest in solar because they take the long view. Over time, owning the means to produce your own renewable energy protects against the ups and downs in the marketplace.

In late October of this year, the city of Denton attracted positive notice as they revealed the plan presented by a consulting group tasked with determining the best way to manage their public utility for the benefit of residents. The analysis predicts that by purchasing a combination of solar and wind generated electricity, Denton Municipal Electric (DME) can convert to using solely renewable resources in the near future. DME is a public utility, owned by the residents of the city. The utility board is currently evaluating adoption of the proposal.

For Texas residents, business and municipalities, solar, wind and other renewables represent an opportunity to grow something every city needs: jobs. Today, renewable energy production and associated services bring jobs to local economies. Who doesn’t want to save money, keep our environment clean and produce jobs for Texans?

Curious about how a residential solar investment can benefit you? Schedule your consultation today. http://bit.ly/GetaSolarConsultation

Solar energy is good for business

Solar energy is good for business. That’s why companies are making significant investments in solar systems. In the past few years, Texas has had three large employer’s who have upgraded their facilities to add solar to the mix of energy sources they currently use.

International shipping giant FedEx recently completed a large solar installation at their plant in Hutchins, Texas. The solar panel system is comprised of over 4,500 photovoltaic panels and will produce about 20% of the electricity need by the facility. It currently covers half of the available roof space of the warehouse. The company used incentives offered by their service provider, Oncor, and government incentives, too, in completing the project. This facility, south of Dallas, joins FedEx locations in New York, New Jersey and California in utilizing solar power.

Campbell Soup is developing a variety of sustainable energy projects for their facilities throughout the United States, including their location in Paris, Texas. The Paris plant will add both wind and solar electricity to their energy plan. The company is going solar at their world headquarters in Camden, New Jersey, too. That solar array will be the largest in the city, producing over 5 million kw hours annually. The system is designed to generate approximately 20 of the power needed by the corporate headquarters.

The most recent, and most ambitious, corporate solar energy project in Texas is at the new Toyota Headquarters in Plano. In partnership with SunPower, they just brought the largest solar array in the state on line. Made up of over 20,000 panels, it represents a one-billion-dollar commitment by Toyota. This project is part of Toyota’s plan to use only sustainable energy. To accomplish that goal, the facility will supplement the electricity produced by the solar array by purchasing wind generated power.

Large business facilities are more committed to sustainability than ever before. Expect to see more facilities of all kinds add more solar, wind and biofuel capability in 2018 and beyond. There are two important reasons that companies like FedEx, Campbell Soup and Toyota are committed to using sustainable resources.

  • It makes a positive impact on their bottom line. By making an up-front investment, they can predict their energy costs better because they have more control.
  • Working toward a cleaner environment creates better relationships with the surrounding community, employees, investors and other stakeholders.

These are the same reasons that most homeowner decide to invest in residential solar energy systems. Are you ready to take control of your energy costs and contribute to a cleaner environment?

All it takes is a phone call to get started.

Residential Solar System: Sunlight to Electricity

Do you know how a residential solar system converts sunlight to electricity? The photovoltaic (PV) panels collect sunlight, then use a piece of equipment called an inverter to turn the light into usable energy for you and your family. It’s a fairly simple system, but putting all of the components together into a productive system requires special expertise. That’s why you want to work with a professional solar system company.

The inverter is one of the most critical parts in your residential solar system. It takes the direct current (DC) electricity created from the interaction of light on the photovoltaic cells and converts it into the alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used in your home and by the grid.

What determines the inverter that your installer will recommend?

As with any home improvement project, it depends! The first part of your solar consultation will be about what your solar power goals are. Here are just a few of the questions you will cover:

  1. Do you want a grid-tied system?
  2. Are you planning to create a battery back-up plan so you are protected in case of catastrophic weather?
  3. Is your home at a remote location that requires a free-standing system (not connected to the grid)?

The decision about what size and type of inverter to install depends on your answer to these questions, along with some others that will guide the design of your system. Your solar consultant will have recommendations of inverters and will include that information in your proposal.

In general, you will want to purchase an inverter large enough to cover demand now and in the future. As your needs change, you can add additional panels for increased capacity if your inverter will accommodate the expansion.

Important points to remember about your residential solar system inverter:

  • The inverter should be covered by a warranty, just like the other components of the system.
  • Your PV panels will last much longer than the inverter, so expect to replace it during the useful life of your system.
  • As a critical part of your residential solar panel system, any financing, rebates, incentives or tax credits you qualify for will help cover the cost.

Schedule your consultation today – there’s no better time to go solar!

Residential Solar for Bottom Line Results

Solar energy has been around for millions of years, but it’s only been in the past twenty years or so that residential solar technology has been able to harness it for cost efficient use. The good news is that in the past decade, several breakthroughs have allowed more people to take advantage of this amazing, cost effective and renewable resource.

Did you know that most homeowners make the decision to use solar power because it helps them save money? However, residential solar panels produce a “triple bottom line” result:

1) Number one, of course, is that it helps homeowners and business save money on monthly bills. Everyone likes to complain about ever rising energy bills. Now you can finally do something about it. When you install a solar panel system that you own, you have some control of your energy costs, regardless what happens with other energy sources!

2) Solar energy is clean energy that generates less pollution than fossil fuels.

3) Solar energy adds to the local economy by creating jobs right here in Central Texas. Jobs in a wide variety of professions and skill levels, right here in our community, result when homes and business go solar.

If you considered using solar energy several years ago, it’s time to revisit the issue. In 2017, solar power systems are more efficient and can generate more electricity with less sunlight. So, even if were told your home doesn’t have an ideal orientation for residential solar in the past, improved technology might allow you to do so now.

Because of the increased efficiency of today’s solar panels, smaller panels generate more electric energy that ever before. If you have a small home or less space available for panels because your home’s design or placement, you may still be able to benefit from solar energy now.

Even though you will still be tied to the grid, solar panels can significantly reduce your electric bills. And, you will still be able to take advantage of those additional bottom line results, too.

Don’t hesitate another minute to find out more about putting the clean, abundant and cost effective energy from the sun to work so you save money, help reduce air pollution and maybe even improve the local economy.

Contact @goprosolar now and schedule your consultation.

Solar Benefits Year Round

Did you know solar benefits don’t disappear at the end of summer?

Fall is here, and the days are getting cooler and shorter. While your solar panels are most productive during long summer days, you can gain solar benefits year round.

First of all, even though days are shorter and the sun is less intense, solar panels are actually more productive in moderate temperatures. It seems counter-intuitive, but photovoltaic cells are capturing and converting light, not heat, into electricity. Temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees are perfect for solar panel productivity. This means that shorter cooler days can equal the energy output of longer, hotter ones.

The real key to having your solar panels at maximum productivity is the design and installation of your system. The size and placement of the panels on your roof and the angle of adjustment make a big difference in how much power is generated. That’s why you want to choose a company that has expertise and experience in solar system design and installation.

An additional reason that fall is a great time to go solar is that a solar system with battery back-up is the best way to deal with power outages. There are a range of weather related causes for power outages:

  • Hurricanes – what’s referred to has Hurricane Season stretches from June 1 through November 30. These storms can cause power outages from high winds and flooding, too. As we all know from recent experience, a big storm can leave thousands without power for several days.
  • Freezing temperatures – while we don’t experience the long stretches of winter that our northern neighbors do, every Texas winter generally brings some freezing temperatures. Even a slight dip below freezing combined with rain can result in dangerous roadways and downed power lines.
  • Lightning storms – Texas experiences more lightning strikes than any other state and has 15 deaths from lightning so far in 2017. Lightning can cause power outages in several ways ranging from issues such as trees falling across powerlines and power surges that knock power out. These outages are general of short duration.

Getting your solar system up and running makes sense. And, don’t forget, you can claim tax credits you might qualify for on your 2017 return. Check out this blog post for information about tax credits, incentives and rebates: http://bit.ly/SolarIncentivesEtc .

The solar company you want to do business with has a knowledgeable, trained staff who spend the necessary time and have the skills they need to create the best, most productive installation for your home. Your solar consultant should also be able to discuss the technical aspects of your specific installation with you.

Contact us today!  http://bit.ly/GetaSolarConsultation