Are solar panels truly impacting the US?
With energy costs on the rise and the health of the environment in decline, homeowners and businesses all across the U.S. are turning to solar energy.
That's right, rooftop solar panels are helping to save the environment and as well as helping to save people money.
RELATED TOPIC: Solar industry continues to surge in 2015
Solar energy movement in the United States
The cost to power homes and businesses is only going to increase in the coming years.
As a result, many homeowners and business owners just like you are turning to solar panels to not only reduce their energy costs, but also to reduce the environmental impact of energy consumption in the United States.
RELATED TOPIC: [INFOGRAPHIC] The explosive growth of residential solar
According to a recent report by the Solar Energy Industries Association, nearly 475,000 homes in the U.S. have solar panels installed on their rooftops. This number is projected to increase by 325,000 homes by the year 2020.
In addition, a growing number of businesses are also going the solar route when it comes to their energy needs.
According to the same study, nearly 1,200 corporations across the country have installed over 600 MW of solar capacity including Walmart and Macy's.
RELATED TOPIC: [INFOGRAPHIC] Solar energy facts
With numbers like these, you're probably wondering how solar panels can benefit your finances and the environment.
Cost benefits of solar energy
There are a number of different cost benefits that go along with installing solar panels on your home or business.
For starters, a solar panel system costs a little over three dollars a watt. This is significantly cheaper than traditional energy costs and can save you thousands of dollars a year on your energy costs.
RELATED TOPIC: Top 10 U.S. commercial solar contractors
In addition, solar panels are very low-maintenance.
The article What's bogging down your solar panels? mentions that annual washing and tree trimming is all it takes to ensure a solar system is running at maximum capacity. Minimal maintenance is always a benefit for both home and business owners.
The government is also offering homeowners and business owners solar investment tax credits, which help offset the costs of solar panel installation. These tax credits can help reduce your income taxes by 30 percent just for owning a solar-friendly property.
RELATED TOPIC: Electricity consumption up, but lower at per-household level
Environmental benefits of solar energy
Solar panels offer long-term environmental advantages that far exceed any of the cost benefits mentioned above.
For example, the solar panel systems that are already in place in the U.S. will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 180 tons over the next 30 years.
Likewise, solar energy is helping to reduce the hundreds of thousands of pounds of coal that's burned in traditional energy production. This is cutting airborne particulates and nitrous oxide in half, which is hugely beneficial to the ozone layer.
RELATED TOPIC: EIA: California sets another solar power record
Finally, because the sun shines everywhere, solar panels are helping to make the United States and other countries energy independent. This is decreasing oil and coal-based energy production across the planet.
If you're considering whether to install solar panels on your home or business, let the benefits of solar energy mentioned above help inform your decision.
About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including solar energy and the environment.
Click here to read the October 2015 edition of Energy Digital magazine!
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.