Solar power on house

Whether or not to put solar energy in your home is a big decision that needs to be made carefully. What exactly is solar energy?

Solar energy facts

Put simply, it's the radiant energy that comes from the sun. Solar energy is light and heat and is used to power your home, but do the pros outweigh the cons?

Pros

Unlimited supply

Solar energy comes from the sun, so unless the sun stops shining one day, solar energy will always be available. According to NASA, the sun will continue shining for another 6.5 billion years, so it's safe to say solar energy isn't going anywhere. Also, by that time the sun will have already swallowed the Earth, so there's really no need to worry.

The cost

Initially, solar energy is quite pricey (even though the government does offer rebates on solar panels). Once installed, though, it's free. That means saying goodbye to that ridiculously expensive electric bill every month, for the rest of your life. Over time, this will save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Green

Solar energy yields no pollution. Manufacturing, transporting and installation do, though, so take that into consideration. Overall, having an energy source that doesn't produce pollution is essential in helping fight the climate crisis and protecting our planet.

Quiet

Solar energy is virtually soundless. Other renewable fuels, such as wind turbines, are generally very noisy. This is definitely something to consider if young children are in the house or if you simply enjoy peace and quiet.

No space required

Solar panels are installed on the roof, so space will not be an issue. If your roof isn't compatible, try shared solar panels. Shared solar allows you to generate green electricity via a "solar garden." The panels are central to the community and are not on your roof.

Cons

Initial cost

Unfortunately, solar energy is not cheap. For the average home in the U.S., it would cost around $30,000 to install. If you typically spend $2,000 per year on electricity, it will take a good 15 years to get your money's worth.

Fluctuation

Since solar energy runs off the sun, you may need to invest in other sources of electricity during nighttime hours. Also, storms and the weather can affect the productivity of the solar panels. If you need a backup plan, this is another added expense to the initial start-up costs, and it will take even more time to get your money back from this investment.

Pollution

Though solar energy itself doesn't produce any pollution, existing pollution can affect the solar panels' ability to do their job efficiently. Living in a large city with an abundance of pollution will make your panels run less smoothly, in which case you will still need a backup energy source.

More ways to go green

Easy ways to go green in the kitchen
5 Everyday home products that make a big difference
5 Simple swaps for a sustainable home

Tags: solar power

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Comments

Comments on "Pros and cons of going solar in your home"

Katie September 19, 2012 | 11:29 AM

I agree with Jeff that sometimes if you're house is too small it will not be financially beneficial to you. I hope the world starts turning more towards solar power, but for now it seems too expensive for the average family.

Tina September 10, 2012 | 1:13 PM

My husband works for a few people who have solar power, and of course they would recommend it. For the average-salaried American though it seems like too high of costs up front. I understand you can save money in the long run, but who has $30K to throw towards solar power?

Allison September 09, 2012 | 9:49 AM

I’m so glad somebody finally mentioned the cons associated with solar panels. All we keep hearing about these days is how solar energy is the wave of the future, but how many people actually know the downsides? The $30K startup cost is a hefty price tag for the average homeowner, and considering how it will take 15 years in utility savings to finally pay off these initial costs, the investment doesn’t seem worth it. After all, most people don’t live in a home for 15 years, and having solar panels on your roof might actually hurt the resale value of your house. Since solar energy is abundant and yields no pollution, it would be nice if solar panels were more competitively priced. I would love to have an energy self-sufficient home and to be able to finally say goodbye to those monthly utility bills once and for all.

Jeff September 07, 2012 | 12:05 PM

I have looked into doing solar for my house. There is not a solar panel that is small enough to just do my house and the state will not refund me for the energy i was providing for my neighbors.

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