Home Improvement: Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency with Solar Energy

Home Improvement

Home energy efficiency is something that is on almost everybody’s mind these days when it comes to home Improvement. Whether you want to help the environment, or save money on energy bills, or simply want to improve comfort levels in your home, solar energy is one option that cannot be ignored.

Recent years have shown that energy costs are steadily on the rise with some very irregular spikes in costs. Despite improvements in energy efficiency in cars and home appliances, the increased costs of oil, gas and electricity have certainly put a severe strain on people’s finances. At a time where many families are already struggling to maintain living standards, improving energy efficiency is a very prudent thing to do.

In the realm of solar energy there are several options, and due to technological advances a lot of options are now viable for residential use without having to have a huge budget as previously needed. While the technologies are constantly evolving the underlying idea stays the same. Light and heat from the sun is harnessed and used as a source of energy, which is completely renewable, as the sun will not stop shining for a very long time.

Solar panels are a very common form of harnessing the energy of the sun for the production of electricity. This would usually involve panels with photovoltaic cells being installed in the roof of a house. When exposed to sun light, even on cloudy days, these panels will generate electricity, and this can be used to power any type of electrical devices in your home.

Solar panels are most efficient if you live somewhere that gets a lot of direct sunlight all year round. Modern panels have seen significant efficiency improvements meaning that in the right conditions an average household can produce more electricity than it actually requires. This can open up the opportunity to feed excess electricity back into the grid, if your utility provider allows for such a service.

One of the greatest energy costs is often associated to air-conditioning. With a solar assisted AC unit you can significantly reduce your energy bills especially since generally speaking AC units are used most in areas where there is a lot of sun and heat in summer months. Such devices generally use the heat of the sun for heating the air-con system refrigerant. This in turn reduces how much the unit has to work, saving significant amounts of energy.

Solar water heaters are another great way to save on energy costs and reduce your carbon foot print. Similar to solar panels, you have a device installed on your roof which has tubing which circulates the water and a solar collector that attract the heat of the sun. The water is then heated when exposed to sun light and pumped into the home where it can be used for heating or for hot water faucets.

This type of solar energy is best suited for areas where it rarely freezes. If you do live in an area where freezing conditions are common in the winter, then the water would require an anti-freeze agent, which then makes it unsuitable for anything other than as a source of heating. However, this can still be a viable option for you.

Beyond being a good contribution to helping the environment, solar energy will definitely help your finances. While you do have to make an upfront investment for the equipment and installation this can in many cases pay off within just a few years. The best thing to do is have a solar energy contractor make some calculations for you, or check with friends and family that may have already made such home improvements.

The great thing is that there are significant tax incentives for making energy efficiency modifications to your home. Whether these are insulation or solar energy related you will be able to take advantage of such tax incentives. Energy efficient home Improvement will also add considerably to the value of your home. Having a reduced energy bill with already installed systems is a great selling point at a time when so much focus is put on reducing energy costs and the carbon foot print.

 

Picture (credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/hsivonen/)