10 Simple Energy Saving Tips for Summer 2018

10 Simple Energy Saving Tips for Summer 2018

The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and Momentum Solar customers are enjoying even more energy savings due to longer, sunnier days. You know what that means: it must be summer! You already have good habits that help you save energy, but there may be some more tips and tricks you haven’t considered before.

Saving energy this summer shouldn’t be a major challenge. Here are 10 energy saving tips for the summer to help you be greener while saving more:

1. Switch to Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

Replace the light bulbs throughout your home with more efficient LED bulbs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that in 2017, the U.S. residential sector and the commercial sector used about 273 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity just for lighting. This was about 10% of the total electricity consumed by both sectors and about 7% of total U.S. electricity consumption.1 By switching to LEDs, you’ll use about 75-80% less energy and you won’t need to change your bulbs for at least 10 years — if not longer.

2. Cook Outside

It can get hot in the kitchen. Instead of using your stove and oven every single day, consider grilling outside during the summer to cut energy costs a bit. Using an indoor stove or oven can raise the temperature in your kitchen as much as 5 to 10 degrees, forcing air conditioning system to work harder and longer. Avoid it if you can!

3. Unplug Devices

It’s easy not to think about all the electronics you leave plugged in throughout your house, but these gadgets can use a lot of energy even when they’re idle. To see a positive impact on your electricity bill, take the extra few seconds to unplug items around your house that you aren’t using – the coffee maker, your lamps, TVs … anything that can be easily hooked up again when you need it. It can make a difference!

4. Add Insulation

Homes often leak cool air during the summer because of extra spaces in between walls, pipes, connections, and vents. If you get an energy audit conducted for your home, you can ensure everything is properly sealed —. there’s no point in trying to cool down your home if half of the air is leaking out. Professional inspectors can make sure your home is leak-free and is operating as efficiently as possible.

5. Use Your Windows and Blinds

If you live in a climate with breezy, cool nights, utilize that natural ventilation that relies on the wind and the ‘chimney effect’ to keep your home cool. Additionally, when the sun is at its hottest, pull your blinds closed to block the heat — your home will feel even cooler and your air conditioner will get a break.

6. Use a Programmable Thermostat

There are ways to stay cool without turning on your air conditioner, but when the summer temperatures start climbing to 90 (or even a 100!) degrees, using your air conditioner is a must. You should set your thermostat as high as your comfort level allows. When you’re away from home, try turning your AC up to around 85 degrees and make sure the windows and drapes are closed. While it will be hot for a few minutes when you get home, the blinds will prevent the heat and humidity from coming through your windows. This method will make sure your system won’t have to work harder to cool your house.

7. Hang Your Laundry Outside to Air Dry

Take advantage of the sunlight and hot days to air dry your laundry. This old-school method allows you to bypass your drying machine and dramatically reduce your electricity use. It will also preserve the quality of your clothes as an added benefit. By using less energy, you’ll not only save on your energy bills but also help the environment by using fewer fossil fuels.

8. Turn on Your Ceiling Fan

We rely on our air conditioners to keep things cool most of the time, but you can also easily cut down on energy costs by utilizing ceiling fans. They can give your air conditioning unit a break and serves as yet another energy saver.

9. Make Monthly Filter Checks Mandatory

Do not neglect the filter in your AC unite. By not regularly checking and changing out your filters following the manufacturer’s directions, your AC could be working overtime which results in a higher energy bill for you. Be sure to clean or replace your filters monthly for more efficient operation.

10. Adjust the Water Heater

By using hot water to do your laundry, you’re wasting even more energy and money. Most laundry detergents are now formulated to work just as well with cold water as it does with hot water. Additionally, take a shorter shower if your water is lukewarm water — this will not only reduce your energy bill but also help reduce your water usage.

Bonus

11. Go Solar!

Longer days mean more sunlight, and more sunlight means more savings for homes powered by the sun. Summer months have always been considered optimal for solar output due to more hours of sunlight and thus, producing more solar energy.

Sources:
1https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=99&t=3
2https://freshome.com/2011/07/21/10-energy-saving-tips-for-this-hot-summer/
3https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/spring-and-summer-energy-saving-tips
4https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/how-to-save-money-on-your-electric-bill/

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5 Financial Benefits of Solar Panels

5 Financial Benefits of Solar Panels

Using solar energy to power your home is about as green as you can get. The benefits to the Earth are well known, but installing solar panels don’t just better the environment. They also provide significant financial perks for homeowners, business owners, and the economy.

Here are 4 financial benefits of solar energy:

1. It Stabilizes and Reduces Your Energy Bill

By installing a solar power system on your home or property, you can avoid the consistent utility rate hikes from traditional fossil fuels. The average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer is 10,766 kilowatt-hours (kWh), assuming an energy consumption of approximately 897 kWh per month.1 For those living in freestanding single-family homes, the number was significantly higher.

At an average utility rate of $0.16 per kWh in New Jersey, that’s a savings of $1,722 in the first year if you purchase the system. And that doesn’t even count the income from the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs)!

You can also do a power purchase agreement (PPA) and lock in predictable energy costs over several decades that are significantly lower than your current monthly bill.

2. Solar Can Increase the Value of Your Home

An often-overlooked financial benefit of solar power is the resale value it adds to a home. After an initial investment, it will not only save you money from lowered electricity bills, but you could potentially see the resale value of your home increase.

Homebuyers are consistently willing to pay more for homes with solar energy systems that average about $4 per watt of PV installed.2 This equates to about $15,000 more in value. While this is a long-term benefit that you won’t see immediately, it is one that you will see in the future if you choose to sell your home.

3. You Can Capitalize on Government Incentives and Purchase Options

Solar investment tax credits (ITC) are one of the driving forces behind the growth of affordable solar energy. There is a 30% federal tax credit available for purchased solar systems, which can be claimed by a home or business owner when filing their annual tax returns.

In addition to this lucrative tax credit, there are also financing and leasing options available that are making solar cheaper than ever before. The cost of solar has dropped about 1/3 since 2010 and is outperforming coal and gas. Today, you can even go solar with zero out-of-pocket expenses.

4. Utilizes Free Energy Source

Fossil fuels are nonrenewable energy sources and are risky, dangerous, and expensive to convert into usable energy. Sunshine, on the other hand, is a renewable energy source that is free. While the equipment needed to harness the energy is not free, the energy produced by the sun is. Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on Earth and generates enough energy to power the world over 10,000 times, which can be continually used.3

5. Positive Return on Investment (Net Metering)

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)4 explains net metering as a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. It also provides substantial statewide economic benefits in terms of jobs, income and investment. Not only does net metering allow homeowners and business owners to generate their own clean, efficient electricity, but it also allows them to send the extra energy they produce during the day back into the grid. The extra energy builds a “bank” of credits with the utility company to use with the sun isn’t shining. This financial benefit becomes even more evident during the summer months due to longer, sunnier days.

Sources:
1https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=97&t=3
2http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2015/01/13/berkeley-lab-illuminates-price-premiums-u-s-solar-home-sales/
3https://sos.noaa.gov/datasets/energy-on-a-sphere/
4https://www.seia.org/initiatives/net-metering/

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5 Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy

5 Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy

Whether you’re a homeowner or commercial business owner, solar energy is a sustainable, clean, and affordable way to generate electricity. While it provides substantial financial benefits — like electricity savings and increased property value — it also provides health and environmental benefits, which are as equally important.

If you’re thinking about switching to solar energy, it’s worth taking a few minutes to consider these health and environmental benefits:

1. Solar Energy Decreases Air Pollution and Reduces Public Health Issues

Did you know that about 32% of greenhouse gas emissions1 in the United States is a result of electricity production? Fossil fuels, which emit carbon dioxide (CO2), make up the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector — but smaller amounts of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are also emitted. These harmful gases are the leading contributors to climate change and a decrease in air quality. Air pollution can cause cardiovascular and respiratory illness and even long-term damage to your organs. On the other hand, generating electricity with solar panels produces no greenhouse gasses and significantly reduces carbon emissions. Even just one household switching to solar and generating cleaner air will make a difference.

2. Solar Energy Reduces Water Scarcity

Thermoelectric power plants, natural gas and coal-fired facilities require vast amounts of water to assist with their crucial cooling requirements. However, coal-fired power plants alone account for 72% of all toxic water pollution in the country and have been linked to serious health conditions like cancer and neurological damage.2 Every year, power plants dump millions of tons of toxic pollutants into our nation’s waterways. While most manufacturing processes require some water, solar cells — or photovoltaic (PV) cells — convert sunlight directly into electricity without the need for water. Solar cells are responsible for cleaner drinking water!

3. Solar Energy Reduces Your Carbon Footprint

Solar energy is a great option for homeowners that want to reduce their carbon footprint. The average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer is 10,766 kilowatt hours (kWh), assuming an energy consumption of approximately 897 kWh per month.3 By installing solar on your home, you can reduce your impact on the environment by generating power with zero emission. Average consumption will produce enough clean energy to offset the emissions from 19,638 miles driven by an average vehicle, 902 gallons of gasoline consumed, and 8,766 pounds of coal burned. While you won’t be able to completely eliminate all of your home’s greenhouse gas emissions, switching to solar power can make a positive difference for the environment.

4. Solar Energy Reduces the Need for Non-Renewable Resources

Fossil fuels are nonrenewable energy sources — they cannot be readily replaced by natural means on a level equal to its consumption. Eventually the world will run out of fossil fuels or it will become too expensive to find and then extract when all other sources are depleted. In comparison, solar energy is a renewable energy. Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth with 173,000 terawatts of solar energy striking the Earth continuously — that’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.4 Switching to solar energy is the best way to hedge against the reality of finite fuel resources that will eventually become an energy crisis.

5. Solar Energy Assists in Preserving Nature

Open land is in limited supply in many parts of the United States, and thermoelectric power plants, natural gas and coal-fired facilities require huge plots of land to handle their massive production lines. This land could be preserved or used for other purposes like businesses or residences. Additionally, these plants and facilities tend to pollute the surrounding areas with gases and toxic wastes and negatively affecting the local environment. Solar energy, on the other hand, can be placed on currently unused rooftops while giving off zero emission.

Sources:
1https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions
2https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/power-plant-cooling-FS.pdf
3https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=97&t=3
4https://sos.noaa.gov/datasets/energy-on-a-sphere/
5https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculatorfacebooktwittergoogle-plusinstagramlinkedin

Is Going Solar Right For You?

Is Going Solar Right For You?

There are now over 1.6 million completed solar installations in the US — a number that is expected to more than double over the next 5 years. Residential solar is an alternative energy option that is more widely accessible than ever before, and homeowners are becoming more educated on the financial and environmental benefits available to them.

If you’re considering switching to cleaner energy, you may want to know how it actually lowers your electric bill, how the system is installed, and how the panels produce electricity for your home. There could also be financial incentives available to you depending on the state you live in, making it even more affordable to install solar panels on your roof or property. There are several key components in determining your eligibility, which you’ll want to fully understand before prior to making a decision.

How Do You Qualify?

Roughly 74 million single-family American homes have solar potential, yet only 2% have completed system installations*. Qualification and savings are determined by multiple factors including:

  1. Owning Your Home: Solar companies offer installation services to homeowners only. If you are a renter, your landlord will have to determine if switching to solar makes sense for his or her property.
  2. Your Electricity Usage & Cost: If you use a lot of electricity and your monthly utility bills are high, you are a great candidate for solar. As a baseline, if you pay $100 or more each month you should consider making the switch. Consultations are always free and can be completed without any obligations.
  3. Age & Condition Of Your Roof: The condition of your roof is important to assess prior to solar panel installation. If a repair or replacement is needed, some solar companies will work with you on affordable roofing options. This can alleviate some of the financial burdens associated with necessary roof work.
  4. Roof Shading: The amount of shade your roof receives will determine where you can install panels and how much energy those panels will be able to produce. If your roof gets more shade than your neighbor’s roof, for instance, this can affect your level of solar production and your savings.
  5. Roof Space: In correlation with the amount of shade your roof receives, the size of your roof is also an important factor. The more spacious your roof, the bigger your solar system can be. If you have more panels on your roof you can produce more solar energy and receive more savings.
  6. Roof Azimuth & Tilt: Your roof’s pitch and the direction it faces can also affect how much sunlight it receives, which affects panel production. Most solar companies will work with you to help you achieve the highest possible solar production and maximize your savings.

How Should You Finance Your Solar Panels?

Every homeowner is different. Luckily, there are different financial options available when considering solar.

  • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA):

With a power purchase agreement, qualified homeowners pay for the energy that the solar system produces at a predictable rate that is lower than the local utility. The rate also provides price protection from rising electricity costs for the duration of the solar agreement. Your solar company will handle system design, permitting, financing, installation and activation with little to no upfront costs. At the end of the agreement (typically between 10-25 depending on the financier), the PPA can be extended, or the system can be removed or purchased, depending on the preference of the homeowner.

  • Solar Lease:

Similar (and as common) as a power purchase agreement, qualified homeowners can lease a solar system for little to no upfront costs. The difference between a lease and a PPA is that leases offer a flat, fixed monthly payment for the system as opposed to a rate based on specific energy production. If production fluctuates, the rate does not change.

  • Solar Purchase:

If you want to own your system and take advantage of the 26% federal tax credit, you can often either purchase it outright with cash or qualify for a solar loan. There are several financing options available for homeowners that want to purchase a solar system with little to no upfront cost. Your solar company will outline a financial payment plan in detail in comparison to PPA and lease options so that you can determine what is best for your home.

What Incentives Do You Have Available

Solar is now among the cheapest forms of electricity worldwide. There are additional incentives and tax credits associated with installing a residential system in the US to make the option even more affordable.

26% Federal Solar Tax Credit: Also known as the “ITC”, homeowners that purchase systems are able to deduct 26% of the cost of the system on their federal income taxes. The incentive is available through 2020 and then reduces to 22% in 2021, and 10% in 2022 before it expires completely.

State Incentives: As a qualified homeowner, you have access to additional solar incentives and rebates regardless of the financial option you choose. Varying from state to state, the most common incentives are SRECs and net metering:

  • SREC: The Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) allows you to earn (and sell) energy credits for every kilowatt-hour your system produces. Most states offer this incentive.
  • Net Metering: If your system produces more energy than your home uses, the excess power is sent back to the grid and builds “bank” of credits with your utility company. You can use these credits throughout the year when your system production is lower, which is dependent on the weather.

For more a more in-depth synopsis of state solar policies, incentives, and rebates available to you, DSIRE.org is a notable resource:

  • New Jersey – 56 Solar Policies & Incentives
  • New York – 113 Solar Policies & Incentives
  • California – 256 Policies & Incentives
  • Florida – 104 Policies & Incentives
  • Texas – 154 Policies & Incentives

How Does Solar Installation Work?

Solar installation can take 1-3 days, depending on the size of the system. Every homeowner should understand how the panels are mounted and connected to the electrical grid prior to installation.

  1. Electrical wires are filtered through metal piping that is installed from your electrical box up to your rooftop
  2. Racking mounts are aligned and then bolted to the top of your roof’s rafters (this is the only piece of equipment that is actually attached to your roof)
  3. Solar panels are attached to the bolted racking and then connected to the electrical piping
  4. The power inverters are connected to your panels so that they can start producing electricity

How Does Solar Energy Actually Work?

When making the commitment to install a solar power system on your roof or property, you may want to know how you’ll be generating clean electricity:

 

  1. Sunlight hits your solar panels and creates energy
  2. The energy is converted into electricity
  3. The electricity is used as needed and excess power is sent back to your bidirectional meter
  4. Excess power is sent from your meter to the utility grid and builds a “bank” of credits
  5. Your utility company provides electricity at night after your “bank” of credits are used

Sources:
*Calculated from the U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data on free-standing single-family homes and GTM Research (a research division of Greentech Media)
https://news.energysage.com/solar-information-know-go-solar/
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/02/realestate/what-you-should-know-before-going-solar.html
http://www.dsireusa.org/
https://news.energysage.com/solar-panel-installation-guide-what-should-you-expect/
https://www.seia.org/solar-industry-research-data
https://www.solar-estimate.org/solar-incentives/federal-solar-tax-credit

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