Fun is powered by the sun in Lago Mar. What about your home? Homes in Lago Mar are greener and more energy-efficient than ever, but solar panels can potentially reduce your carbon footprint and energy bills even more. Is solar power right for you? Check our handy guide:
What is Solar Power?
Residential solar power is achieved chiefly through rooftop solar panels. The panels plus a device known as an inverter convert sunlight into electricity that can be used to power the home. The panels are made of individual solar cells. They absorb photons which then initiates an electrical current. The entire process is known as the Photovoltaic Effect.
How Much Sun Do You Need?
Unsurprisingly, solar panels work best if you live in a sunny climate, but solar energy can be cost-effective no matter where you live. Texas has a lot of sunny days and just one hour of noontime sunlight in the summer can generate plenty of electricity. Many systems include a battery that can store the generated electricity so even on cloudy days you will be able to power your appliances.
Will Solar Panels Reduce Energy Bills?
The short answer is yes. When you use solar energy, you are not using energy from the power grid as often. That can reduce your energy bill. A solar panel system can last 20 to 25 years, which means you will save money for decades. However, if your energy costs are already low, you might not see enough savings to justify installing a solar system. This tool can help you estimate your potential savings.
Is it Better for the Environment?
Solar energy is renewable energy. Using it does not release pollutants in the air and reduces the amount of carbon emitted.
How Many Panels Do You Need?
How many panels you need depends on where you live, how much energy you use and how much power the panels you choose can generate. Most homes need 20 to 25 panels. Some panels are capable of generating more power than others so you might need fewer panels if they generate more kilowattage.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of solar systems has dropped 70 percent in the past decade. However, installing a solar system is not cheap. The average up-front cost ranges from $11,000 to $15,000. Tax credits are sometimes available which can lower the cost. Financing plans are available, and you can even rent panels. If your builder offers solar panels as an option, you can roll it into your mortgage.
Solar Systems Can Pay for Themselves
Consumers purchase electricity from utility companies. The use of solar power reduces your dependency on the energy grid, thereby saving you money. Over time, the amount of money you save can equal or exceed your initial investment. However, it may take 10 to 20 years. Installing a solar system can increase the value of your home so you are likely to recoup your investment if you sell it.
What About My HOA?
It is illegal for an HOA to restrict solar systems outright as long as the panels are installed no higher than the roofline, conform to the slope of the roof and have a top edge that runs parallel to the roofline, has panel frames of a certain color and is no taller than the fence line if installed in a yard or patio. Recently passed legislation in Houston requires all new homebuilders to make accommodations for solar panels in their designs.
To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of solar systems, check the FAQ page of the Texas Solar Energy Society.
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