With the brown-outs and black-outs we have experienced in recent years I started looking around for ways to mitigate the inconvenience and damage they cause. After speaking to several residents regarding an interest in the potential of residential solar power systems and the installation of backup generators, I found that there was significant interest in this area to at least find out what is possible, what is allowable, and how much it might be to install some form of a photovoltaic system whether it be for hot water only or for electric or a standby backup power generator.
The need for reserve power led our group to look at the backup generator option first. That project was completed in 2007. We are now taking a look at Solar power.
A PRIMER TO HELP YOU DECIDE IF SOLAR IS RIGHT FOR YOU
o First: You need a South-facing Roof o Second: You need Minimal Shading for the portion of the roof on which a system is to be installed o Third: You need 200-300 Square Feet of Continuous Roof Space for Solar Electric
Don't have the space? Consider Solar Hot Water which requires much less roof space. Or perhaps you have enough property on which a solar array can be installed?
Solar Hot Water While solar electric systems can be used to reduce your overall electric bills, solar hot water provides relief for hot water use only (non-heating). However, these systems are efficient enough to make a significant impact in your overall electric, gas, and/or oil bills. They are also much less expensive and can realize a faster return on investment.
Even if you do not have the roof orientation, space, or shade requirements you can still reduce your electric bill with these tips: (1) Get an Energy Audit of your home. (2) As bulbs burn out, replace then with compact flourescent bulbs or LEDs. (3) Check the insulation in your attic and redo or add to it. The higher the R-value the better. Check your windows and doors for drafts and use caulk to seal gaps. Check outlet and switch plates for signs of drafts (4) Updating appliances? Look for the EnergyStar certification. (5) Unplug applicances or electronics that are not used extensively. Many still draw power to keep clocks and memory running. If you don't need it shut it off and unplug it. Putting multiple devices on a power strip within easy reach can help. (6) Where logical, install timers, photocells, or motion sensors to help reduce unecessary energy use.