Residential Solar Energy

Consider all your residential solar energy options in order to take full advantage of green energy...

Residential solar power systems can be installed in existing homes or new homes. But each one has it own set of advantages and disadvantages. Consider all of the options available to you so you can choose the ones that best fit your solar energy goals.

Solar Energy Options for Existing Homes

When you are considering residential solar energy for an existing home, many of the choices have already been made for you. A good example of this is the orientation of the home. If you're lucky, the home is facing south, but that may not be the case.

Most likely you will have to work with conditions that are not optimal for solar energy. But that's ok. Do the best that you can with YOUR home.

Residential Solar Energy
A CFL Bulb For Energy Efficiency

With that in mind, the first thing you should do is perform a home energy audit so you can make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible. For example...

  • Is the weatherstripping around your doors in good shape?
  • Is your roof properly insulated?
  • Are you using CFL bulbs for lighting?

Making sure your home is energy efficient will ensure you get the most benefit from any residential solar system you implement. It's especially critical if getting cheap solar power is one of your goals.

Solar thermal energy applications such as active solar water heating are perfect for existing homes. Since solar collectors are used to collect and convert the sunlight into heat, you can position them any way you need regardless of the orientation of the home.

Of course, solar electricity is another excellent option for existing homes. As with active solar energy applications, solar power panels can be positioned to take advantage of the sun regardless of the home's orientation. Usually, you will want to tackle other solar options before installing solar power for homes. This will allow you to size a smaller pv system which will save you in implementation costs.

Solar Energy Options for New Homes

If you are looking at having your next home built, you're in luck because...

The best time to consider your solar power system options is before your home is built!

Starting with the design of your home, you should include passive solar energy design elements for heating, cooling, and lighting applications. Passive solar design elements include:

Residential Solar Power
Sun Path For Solar Home Orientation
  • Orientation
  • Shading
  • Insulation
  • Thermal Mass
  • Windows
  • Ventilation

A passive solar home is naturally comfortable and energy efficient.

One of the great things about building a new solar power home is that you can also include active solar energy applications in an esthetically pleasing way. One example of this is by integrating solar collectors with porch or patio covers.

Solar electricity applications can also be designed into the home so that they are nearly invisible. The use of solar shingles instead of the traditional solar cell is a great example of this. This is really great because not only can you generate your own solar power electricity, but with net-metering, you can also sell the excess electricity you generate to your local utility.

When properly designed and built, your home can actually produce more energy than it consumes on an annual basis! These homes are known as Zero Energy Homes (ZEH). Builders are constructing more and more ZEH as they realize the strong interest people have in them.

A Spectrum of Possibilities

Whether you are looking at residential solar energy options for an existing home or a new home, you should take a systematic approach.

Our Getting Started With Solar Energy page will provide you with step-by-step guidance to help you create your own Solar Energy Master Plan so you can bring your residential solar power dreams to life!

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