Designing an environmentally friendly house can often run the risk of sacrificing the aesthetic value of one’s home. Solar panel technology has developed faster than many other innovations in green energy and living. Today’s solar energy options are stylish, effective power alternatives that can turn the average home into a sleek, sunlight-harvesting abode. The rewards of living green are abundant — lower bills, smaller ecological footprint, pride in taking part in our obligation to Mother Earth, even talking points for cocktail parties. Drawbacks exist as well, but they can be overcome.
‘Zero Home’ Sets Energy Precedent
The technology powering solar panels has become so efficient and effective that one house in Utah is generating more power than it consumes. The “Zero Home” is a technological marvel, an operating example of energy machinery perfected to the point of reversing our notion of energy expenditure. The house, which is three stories tall, scored a negative-one rating in the House Energy Rating System, meaning it produces more energy than it consumes. What’s even more shocking is the relatively tame price point of $400,000, reportedly similar to that of a typical house in the same part of Utah. Garbett Homes build the house, and home automation company Vivint provided the technology. Although replicating the “Zero Home” would be challenging, the house showcases innovation in green energy and hints at a future where electricity bills will be a thing of the past. The house shows that the cost of solar panels is easily justifiable when planned ahead.
Building Your Home Around the Sun
Image via Flickr by mikecogh
For people looking to purchase or build a home, taking note of a home’s sunlight access can maximize the usefulness of natural heating and solar panels as well as reduce the need for lighting. Utility bills can add up, and the solution is simple — effective window placement and sizing is vital to maximizing your home’s use of the sun. Some windows are triple-insulated to store heat energy, which can then be used to power a home as well. Not everyone can afford a home with elaborate window architecture to accommodate the sun, but common sense and attentiveness can ensure that any house maximizes its use of the natural heater in the sky.
Swimming in Solar Energy
At some point during the year, many pool owners give up on trying to enjoy their lofty investments because the temperatures are simply too low. Unless homeowners want to dump money into heating their pools, they’re basically stuck with a frozen pond until summer returns. The most energy-efficient method of heating a pool is with solar panels. Although the technology once lacked the speed to capably heat pools, newer models retain heat more easily, storing it in cells for faster heating. Solar panels are commonly built in congruence with pools, which is why solar panels are regularly visible from the deck of pools. The benefit is twofold: more sun for both solar panels and tanning. During temperate seasons, when the sun is out but the wind is still chilly, a combination of direct sunlight and solar-panel heating creates an affordable solution to overly brisk pool water.
Savvy Solar Saving
Sometimes thinking outside the box is the best way to turn your home into a smart home. Although designed for rooftop installation, grounded yard solar panel models exist as well and can be incorporated into landscaping to create a “nature tech” hybrid of curb appeal. Installing panels on a guest house means preserving the natural beauty of one’s home while diverting the energy needs to a secondary structure on the property. You can also do this with a shed or trailer to a lesser effect.
It may seem rather obvious, but keep up with maintenance if you invest in solar energy. Panels only remain weather-resistant for so long before nuts and bolts need tightening. Maintaining panels is just as important as placing and installing them.
The home of your dreams can be a self-sustaining residence, with a bit of investment. The cost of solar panels varies, depending on the make, model, and installer, but the overall savings are sure to leave you smiling once the sun is powering your home.