Powering our lives with the sun

In just one hour, the sun shines on the Earth’s surface enough to meet the world’s energy needs for an entire year.  A study found 27,000 MW of potential rooftop solar capacity – JUST in Ohio. That’s enough energy to fully supply 3,000,000 homes, or 65% of Ohio’s total energy needs!  And at the end of 2014, Ohio had 102 MW of solar capacity installed, collecting clean, renewable energy from the sun. 

HOW IT WORKS

When the sun’s rays shine on solar panels, they excite some of the internal particles. This causes those particles to move through differently charged layers, which creates an electric current. And the best part is, the electricity generation is completely emission free! The only emissions associated with solar power are with the manufacture, transportation, and installation of the cells. But, that is hard to avoid no matter your energy source.

BENEFITS

The typical homeowner can reduce their electric bill by 70-100% with solar panels. Over time, that really adds up. Combine this with the fact that systems are typically paid off in less than ten years, and it’s hard to deny that solar is a great investment.

In 2011, the average Ohio homeowner paid about $15,916 to install a system on their home. Those same residents are saving approximately $73 a month on their electric bill. In 20 years, they will save $17,520!

The cost of installing a system was slashed in half from 2010-2014, and the sticker price will likely continue to drop.  Plus, after your system is paid off, you pocket all the extra money you save on your energy bills as long the panels keep doing their job. And they do their job for a while. Most companies guarantee 80% performance after 25 years – but some experts suggest your panels will likely produce a good amount of energy for up to 40 years.

Ohio solar systems operate off of Net Metering. Excess energy that your system produces is sent to the electric company for credit. For example, there may be a beautiful, sunny day when your panels are at full operation, but you are out of town and aren’t using much energy.  Then, if your system doesn’t make enough for your energy needs at a different time, the electric company will send you free electric up to your credit amount. Therefore, you only pay an electric bill if your needs exceed your net generation for a given month.

There are many more great benefits of solar power.

  • Immediate savings – Your electric bill decrease exponentially as soon as your panels are up and running.
  • Low maintenance – Typically, residential systems only need cleaned once or twice a year.
  • Increased home value – One study shows that homes with solar panels sell 20% faster, and for 17% more money.
  • Offset carbon footprint – The average residential solar system offsets about 100,000 lbs of CO2 in 20 years. That’s equivalent to driving a car 100,000 miles!

Curious how much sunlight your house can harness per month? Asking a certified installer is a solid source, but there is another great option if you’re from Northwest Ohio. Check out this interactive map to see if your house was included in the study. They have thermal imaging to show the sustainability of roof-top panels on houses in parts of Lucas, Ottawa, Wood, and Sandusky counties.