Consider the local permitting and inspection fees

Most people know about the installation fees that are associated with home solar systems. But there are also the local permitting and inspection fees that most people don’t know about. The permitting and inspection fees alone can add $2000 to $3000 to the installation fees. So when you get a quote from a local contractor, be sure to ask all the necessary fees. If you only consider the solar panels and installation fees, they don’t seem to be that bad. Keep in mind that the solar panels and installations fees are only 60 to 70% of the overall cost. Permitting, maintenance, and future repairs are another 30% that you don’t usually think about right away. Consider all the necessary cost before you decide on installing solar systems. Will you still be able to offset the cost in 10 years? Are you going to stay in the house that long?

The cost of solar homes

Most people use passive solar heaters to heat up water for their homes. Others use solar cells for electricity. If you’re considering solar panels for electricity, the cost of purchasing and installation can be overwhelming. Not all families get to recoup the investment. In today’s economy, every few people know that they will get to stay in the same area for more than 10 years. You never know when you would have to relocate. Sometimes to areas beyond commuting. When you sell your home, the solar panel investment might not add too much value to your house.

Yes, you can argue with the potential buyers, but it’s a buyer’s market right now so sometime you don’t have an option. If your new job is waiting and the old paycheck is done, you will have to sell and relocate. Very few families can carry two mortgages at the same time. So think about the recouping time vs the benefits before you decide on installing solar panels. But one thing for certain is that you’re helping the environment.

The installation of solar heating systems is very important

How well your solar heating system works and performs really depend on several factors. One of course is the quality of your system, your system design and the installation. When you’re ready to have solar heating system installed, be sure to check with the installer. You want to get several quotes and ask for references. Their experiences really matter in how well they can install the system. Talk to other customers.

Once the system is successfully installed, don’t forget the annual maintenance. It’d be the best to use the same contractor who installed it in the first place to maintain the system. That’s another reason to find a good and experienced installer in the first place.

What are the benefits of Active Solar Heating Systems?

If you’re thinking of installing active solar heating systems or are just wondering about its true benefits, all I know is that it is the most  cost-effective when they are used for most of the year. Which means that you need to have good solar resources. AZ, for example, will be a good place to have solar heating. If you currently use electricity, propane, and oil heat to heat your house, solar heating system will make the cost go much lower. You might be able to receive sales tax exemptions, income tax credits or deductions from your state government also.

It’s true that the system will not come cheap. The cost of an active solar heating system starts from $30 to $80 per square foot of collector area installed. But your fuel bills will be reduced so much even just in the first month. You can even use it to heat water and to generate electricity. If you’re also environmentally responsible, it will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases. So if you know that you’ll stay in the house for a long time, then invest in a system.

Source: EERE

What are the two basic types of active solar heating systems?

There are two basic types of active solar heating systems. One is liquid-based system that heats water or an antifreeze solution in a “hydronic” collector. The other one is air-based systems heat air in an “air collector.”

Even though these two systems differ in their fluid types, both of them collect and absorb solar radiation, then transfer the solar heat directly to the interior space or to a storage system, from which the heat is distributed.

Usually, in home heating, these systems might not be able to provide enough space heating, an auxiliary or back-up system provides the additional heat. Often time, the liquid system is more used when storage is included, and is better suited for radiant heating systems, boilers with hot water radiators, and even absorption heat pumps and coolers. If you have forced air systems, both air and liquid systems are great supplements.

Source: EERE

Active Solar Heating Systems can be used all year long

Did you know that active solar heating system that is used all year long is the most cost effective? However, if you live in a cold climate but receive limited sunlight, or if you live in a very warm climate, an active solar heating system will not work well. We all know how expensive the heating oil is, and they fluctuate with the oil price.  Other sources such as electricity, propane, natural gas are all more expensive than solar systems. If you’re looking to install solar heating system, check with your state. Some states offer sales tax exemptions, income tax credits or deductions, and property tax exemptions or deductions for solar energy systems.

It is definitely true the cost of an active solar heating system is high and caries from places to places. Commercial systems range from $30 to $80 per square foot of collector area, installed. Usually, the larger the system, the less it costs per unit of collector area.

One thing for sure is that heating your home with an active solar energy system can significantly reduce your fuel bills in the winter. A solar heating system will also reduce the amount of air pollution and greenhouse gases that result from your use of fossil fuels such as oil, propane, and natural gas for heating or that may be used to generate the electricity that you use.

If you live in the right climate for an active solar heating system, check with the supplier and installer and find out whether cost will be offset by the savings. It will certainly save you money, but you need to find out how many years it’ll take you to recoup the cost. Also if you might move in a few years, particularly in an uncertain economic time, you might take that into consideration.

Source: EERE

Heat up your simming pool with Solar Swimming Pool Heaters

Image how cool it would be to heat up your pool using a solar swimming pool heater. Number one you can significantly reduce swimming pool heating costs. The cost to install them is about the same as gas and heat pump pool heaters. But they have very low annual operating costs. Actually, solar pool heating is the most cost-effective use of solar energy in many climates.

How they work is not that complicated:

  • A solar collector — the device through which pool water is circulated to be heated by the sun
  • A filter — removes debris before water is pumped through the collector
  • A pump — circulates water through the filter and collector and back to the pool
  • A flow control valve — automatic or manual device that diverts pool water through the solar collector.

Talk to a contractor and see what they can offer.

Source: Department of Energy

Things to consider before you install a solar water heater system

Solar water heaters are great. They will save energy, money, and the environment. But before you buy and install a solar water heating system, you need to first consider your home’s solar resource. Not all homes are suitable for a solar water heater system. It all depends on how much sun light your home gets.

Solar water heating systems use both direct and diffuse solar radiation. Ideally, if you live in a sunny, dry, and warm climate, it’ll be great to install one. However, northern climate might still have enough solar resources. The most important is where your home is built. If it’s built in a heavily wooded area, then it’ll not work.

The best way for you to find out if not through guessing, but consulting a solar system supplier or installer. They’re trained professionals who can conduct a solar site analysis.

Source: EERE

Use Solar water heaters to generate hot water for your home

If you think solar panels cost too much, there are other ways to harvest solar energy and save energy without the high cost. You can install solar water heaters, also called solar domestic hot water systems can to generate hot water for your home. The good news is that they can be used in any climate and for free.

How does a solar water heater work? Solar water heating systems come with storage tanks and solar collectors. The storage tank is well-insulated and has an additional outlet and inlet connected to/from the solar collector. In a 2 tank system, the heater preheats water before it enters the conventional water heater. In 1 tank system, the backup heater and the solar storage are in one tank. The cost of a solar water heater usually is around $1,100.

Solar Water Heating System Freeze Protection

Solar water heating systems, which use liquids as heat-transfer fluids, need protection from freezing in climates where temperatures fall below 42ºF (6ºC).

Don’t rely on a collector’s and the piping’s (collector loop’s) insulation to keep them from freezing. The main purpose of the insulation is to reduce heat loss and increase performance. For protecting the collector and piping from damage due to freezing temperatures, you basically have two options:

  • Use an antifreeze solution as the heat-transfer fluid.
  • Drain the collector(s) and piping (collector loop), either manually or automatically, when there’s a chance the temperature might drop below the liquid’s freezing point.

Source: EERE, US Department of Energy