There has been a lot of debate as to whether or not solar energy is a reliable source of energy and whether it provides enough benefits for us to consider installing it in our homes. With the coal and oil resources of the modern world rapidly dwindling, society must turn to other forms of energy and renewable energy systems are one of the best options as they provide limitless energy without taking anything out of the environment.
By burning fossil fuels for our heating and electricity we are taking from a resource that is limited and will eventually run out, so it is important to start considering alternative forms of energy. Many people may be loathe to start considering alternative forms of energy as we have used fossil fuels for so long and there may be prejudices about the effectiveness and costs of these new types of energy. However in reality the benefits far outweigh the costs when it comes to using Solar Energy, particularly if you want a cheaper way to reduce your carbon footprint and cut electricity costs on bills in the future.
Advantages of Solar Energy
Aside from it being incredibly helpful towards the environment, there are a number of advantages to having solar panels installed on your home. Whether you are environmentally conscious or you would rather save a bit of money, here are the benefits listed of installing solar panels or an alternate form of renewable energy within your home.
Renewable and Limitless
Solar energy is a completely renewable form of power as it converts energy directly from the sun which is (currently at least) an unlimited resource. Solar panels, normally installed on the roof of a house, will convert captured sunlight into useable energy. Because Solar energy is renewable there is no fear of us ‘running out’ of sunlight and there is always a reasonably reliable stream of sunlight available.
Minimal Waste Products
There are in fact, no waste products emitted in the generation of electricity by Solar, unlike many other types of energy systems, which would greatly reduce the carbon footprint of your home or office. Plus the solar panels are also relatively safe, convenient and easy to install in the first place, making it one step easier for you to consider solar energy as a reliable alternative energy resource.
Reduction of Electricity Bills
Although the costs of installing solar panels may be quite dear in the long run you will find yourself saving more money on electricity and heating bills. The energy collected by the solar panels will result in less electricity needed from other sources and will reduce your bills significantly over time. Currently solar panels cannot completely eradicate your electricity bills, but research is being made into creating more and more efficient solar panels every day.
Improve the Resale Value of your Home
Installing Solar panels actually adds to the value of your home as it ensures reduced electricity and heating bills, which can be a major incentive for potential buyers. Plus if you’re in an ideal location with ample sunlight they can add even more value to your home as they will prove to be more efficient.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
Initial Installation Costs
Although it will save you money in the long run with reduced electricity and heating bills, the initial installation costs of solar panels can be quite expensive, especially if you live in a particular area. However there are a number of schemes that aim to provide homeowners with a loan or a grant in order for them to install solar panels that significantly reduce the cost of the panels and the installation. To find out if you are eligible for a solar grant you can check online.
Unfortunately with the current technology Solar Panels are not efficient enough to eradicate electrical and heating bills in their entirety. Currently Solar Panels are running at about 20% efficiency which, while it may not be an impressive figure, will still contribute to reduced electrical bills in the long run. The best way to improve the efficiency of your energy system is to use more than one type of renewable energy, for example both Solar and Wind power.
Visual ‘Pollution’ from solar panels may be the main reason for homeowners not to invest in solar energy. Unfortunately solar panels tend to be quite bulky and their appearance can be off-putting as often the panels are installed on the roof. Owners of period homes or traditional cottages may be loathe to install these clunky looking solar panels as it could put off potential buyers and can even garner complaints from the neighbours for the panels can be quite ‘unsightly’. However, this is a small price to pay for all the benefits provided by solar panels!
All in all Solar Energy is still a relatively inefficient alternative form of energy and this can put a lot of people off, particularly if they’re used to the ‘reliability’ of fossil fuelled electricity and heat. However this is only due to the fact that sunlight is intermittent and not constant. If you combine solar panels with other forms of renewable energy, you find efficiency rises in leaps and bounds.
Wind farms are a great way to improve efficiency as when the sun dies down the wind generally picks up and in the winter months when the sun is less prominent it is generally windier. Hydropower energy and geothermal energy are other examples of renewable energy that can help, particularly if you’re a homeowner in the country.
With a wide range of different options for renewable energy, it is time to start seriously considering these options as a way to move forward into a completely sustainable lifestyle that manages to still keep all of our home comforts. After all, it took thousands of years for our earth to produce the fossil fuels we currently need to produce energy so it makes sense that we take steps forward to ensure a cleaner means of producing energy.
Mike James is a former heating engineer with an interest in greener sources of electricity. He writes about energy sources and supplies for BSW Heating, specialists in the installation of solar panels in the south-east.