Why go Solar and considerations for energy storage systems

Why go solar?  Here is a top 10 list of benefits of solar energy that I have found on the internet.

There are many reasons why homeowners and businesses are going solar, amongst these include improving the environment and cutting energy costs are the most common.  Many homeowners and business owners are aware that solar is a great property improvement and are eager to reduce their carbon footprint while also improving property value.

Whether your motivations for going solar are economic, environmental, or personal, this top 10 list of solar power benefits will have something for everyone.

1) Significant reduction to electricity bill

Electricity costs are a large portion of homeowner or business concerns monthly expenses. With a solar panel system, you are able to generate free power during your system’s expected 25+ year lifecycle.  Even if you do not reduce your utility bills 100%, you will still save a lot of money.

2) Meaningful return on your investment

Solar panels aren’t an expense – they are one of the best ways to invest and improve your home.  Many reports cited substantial electricity bill savings with the average American homeowner paying off their solar panel system in less than seven years.

3) Safeguard against rising energy costs

An obvious benefit of solar panels is the ability to hedge against utility prices rises.  In the past ten years, residential electricity prices have gone up by an average of three percent annually.  By investing in a solar energy system now, you can fix your electricity rate and protect against unpredictable increases in electricity costs. If you’re a business or homeowner with fluctuating cash flow, going solar also helps you better forecast and manage your expenses.

4) Increase your property value

Multiple studies in the US have found that homes equipped with solar energy systems have higher property values and sell more quickly than non-solar homes. Appraisers are increasingly taking solar installations into consideration as they value homes at the time of a sale.  As homebuyers become more educated about solar, demand for properties equipped with solar panel systems will continue to grow.

5) Create jobs and help your local economy

According to The Solar Foundation, the solar industry added jobs at a rate nearly 12 times faster than the overall U.S. economy in 2015, representing 1.2 percent of all jobs in the country. This growth is expected to continue. Because solar-related jobs tend to be higher paying and cannot be outsourced, they are a significant contributor to the U.S. economy.

6) Protect the environment

Solar is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.  With buildings being responsible for 38 percent of all carbon emissions in the U.S., going solar can significantly decrease that number.  A typical residential solar panel system will eliminate three to four tons of carbon emissions each year—the equivalent of planting over 100 trees annually.

7) Demonstrate your commitment to sustainability

Besides improve a business’s bottom line, sustainability and corporate social responsibility are important components of an organization’s culture and values.  Increasingly, consumers and communities are recognizing and rewarding businesses that choose to operate responsibly.  Businesses are finding that “green” credentials are a powerful driver of consumer purchasing decisions, creating goodwill and improving business results.

 8) Improve employee morale

Just like consumers, employees have a demonstrated appreciation for their employers’ commitment to operating responsibility. Employees share in the success and contributions of their organizations. Companies that care about their community and environment tend to have lower staff turnover rates, more engaged employees, and higher levels of morale.

9) Tax Incentives

In order to encourage more consumers to go solar, some government offers great tax incentives.

10) Protect your roof

Solar panels can help protect your roof from harsh weather, saving you money in roof repairs and helping your roof to last longer.

Now that we have a top 10 list to entice you to go solar, let’s explore considerations for energy storage systems to go with solar.

The list below lays out the various degrees of energy independence (from highest to lowest) that an energy storage system can deliver to a household, depending on budget and ambitions.

  • 100% off-grid

Enough energy generation capacity (solar, small wind and/or diesel generator) and battery storage to allow total energy self-reliance, with no grid connection at all.

  • Mostly self-reliant

Enough energy generation capacity and energy storage to get the household through most days without drawing electricity from the grid, although a grid connection still remains.

  • Summertime self-reliance

Enough solar and battery storage capacity for the home to be energy independent during the typical summer’s day. Power may have to be drawn from the grid in the short days of winter.

  • Peak time self-reliance

Enough solar PV and energy storage to meet household demand during the peak hours of 4pm and 10pm, when electricity is expensive on a time-of-use (TOU) retail tariff. This option would require a smaller investment that the prior three options, but could potentially offer the best returns.

  • Partial peak time self-reliance

If budgetary concerns mean that none of the above options are a possibility, then the household might simply opt to get whatever storage system they can afford, with the aim of reducing the amount of power they need to draw from the grid during expensive peak times.

  • Energy storage for back-up power

A small energy storage system whose main functions are to provide a back-up in the event of a power outage, and possibly also ‘smooth’ the solar energy production curve.

Doing the math: Other considerations

There are significantly more variables involved in selecting an appropriately-sized energy storage system than there are in choosing the right solar PV system size, but once you understand what they are you will be in a better place to make an informed decision. The most important of these factors are:

  • Desired degree of energy independence (as listed above).
  • Electricity consumption level: If you’re daily electricity consumption is relatively low (less than approximately 20kWh per day), meeting your energy independence goals will be easier and more affordable. If your usage is higher, so will be the amount of investment required to do so. As a first stop, you should look at ways to make your home more energy efficient before selecting a solar-plus-storage system.

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