To learn more about our services, enjoy these educational blogs and vlogs from our team.
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Saving With Solar
What's Going On With Solar Today
Solar Is Booming
Solar Energy And Electric Cars
Why People Are Going Solar
Defining Our Terms
In our contemporary world, terms such as “renewable” and “sustainable” and “clean” are often thrown about to describe energy sources, but commonly left undefined. When these terms are left vague, it can be hard to grasp how different energy sources could impact our environment in radically different ways—especially in the long term. Here at Solar Energy Systems, we desire to define our terms so you can clearly understand why it may be in your best interest, as well as the interest of the world at large, to convert to solar energy.
Solar energy is often described as a renewable, sustainable, and clean energy source. When we say that solar energy is “renewable”, we mean that its source of energy is naturally replenishing. Since the earth will continue to receive sunlight as long as the sun is in the sky, we do not have to worry about “running out” of solar energy. Other energy sources, such as fossil fuels, are non-renewable, which means that they do not replenish themselves and are therefore, however slowly, being “used up.” We can illustrate this difference in everyday terms by applying them to sources of income: winning the lottery would be a non-renewable source of income, while a salaried position would be a renewable one.
The meaning of “sustainable” can be a bit more tricky, because, at least at one level, “sustainability” is always relative to what needs to be sustained. To go back to the example of sources of income, even a salaried position, while renewable, could fail to be sustainable if the salary does not meet an individual’s expenses. By this definition, the various renewable energy sources, when taken together, are not sustainable at the global level. Simply put, we do not produce enough renewable energy to sustain current levels of energy usage. At Solar Energy Systems, we take the lack of sustainability of renewable energy sources as a call to action. We believe that it is up to each of us to make renewable energy a sustainable energy source, and that we can begin by doing our best to sustain ourselves on a renewable energy source.
It is important to note that many people use the term “sustainability” to describe the long-term viability of an energy source. When used in this sense, the term does not refer to whether an energy course could sustain current energy usage, but whether it can be produced indefinitely without damaging the environment (i.e. it must be “clean”) and harnessed without undermining its own functioning. Wind power is an example of an energy source that is sustainable in this sense. Because wind turbines do not damage the environment or obstruct wind flow, wind power is an energy source that could be sustained indefinitely in the future.
Solar energy is a renewable energy source that is clean (it does not damage the environment) and does not undermine its own functioning (in collecting sunlight it does not prevent the sun from shining). Therefore, converting to solar energy is perhaps the best way that each of us can contribute to the process of making renewable energy sources sustainable on the global level. Solar Energy Systems is here to provide information regarding the environmental benefits of solar energy, as well as guidance and expertise as you consider “going solar.”
Is Solar Energy Cheaper than Electricity from the Grid?
There are few people who would try to deny the facts--electricity costs are on the rise. Over the last decade, electricity prices have risen 3% each year on average, and there is little reason to believe that this trend will end in the foreseeable future. Are you simply at the mercy of the market, forced to accept the energy prices set by the utilities companies, or do you have options?
We doubt that you’re going to be surprised by this, but we believe that solar energy provides the best alternative to electricity from the grid--and the most effective insurance against heightening electricity costs. In short, utility rates are on the rise, and solar energy costs are falling. Taken together, these long-term trends mean that solar energy is almost always the cheaper long-term option.
Electricity Rates On the Rise
As mentioned above, electricity prices have been increasing steadily at a rate of 3% per year for nearly two decades. While electricity prices fluctuate throughout the year, rising with extreme temperatures and falling during more temperate periods, a year-by-year analysis reveals a consistent upward trajectory. In addition, natural gas prices have been on the rise, eliminating another of the potential energy options.
Falling Solar Energy Costs
Over the last decade, the cost of installing a solar energy system has dropped significantly--62% according to one source. Solar costs are at their lowest in 30 years. Still, it may be hard to imagine how monthly savings on energy costs will make up for the initial investment a solar energy system requires.
Here’s one way of looking at it. The average electricity cost for an American household is a little over $1400. If you invest in a system that saves you 100% on your electricity costs, then, as electricity costs rise, your savings also rise. Over the course of your system’s 25+ year lifetime, you’ll almost certainly save more than it cost to set up your system.
Here’s our clincher. Let’s say you don’t have the money up front and need to finance your solar energy system. In that case, you trade a fluctuating but steadily rising electricity rate for a fixed monthly rate, allowing you to forecast and budget more effectively. Looking at it this way, there’s little to lose in switching to an effective solar energy system!
How Switching to Solar Energy Can Save You Money
Switching to solar power is a renewable, sustainable, and clean way to obtain energy for one’s home. However, while these environmental benefits of switching to solar energy are well-known, there are also incredible financial benefits to making the switch. There is one simple way to explain why solar saves money: You own, produce and export your own energy! You are no longer paying for the energy to be made miles away and converted and transported all the way to your home.
Solar energy simplifies the traditional process of obtaining power. To illustrate, we can briefly summarize the traditional process in 6 steps.
(1) Collection Plant: This is where resources like coal or natural gas are extracted from the ground. This stage in the process can also include other forms of energy, such as nuclear, wind, or hydro energy. Also, some companies rely on solar farms and thus incorporate solar energy into this process as well.
(2) Generation Plant: Once collected, these resources are moved to the generation plant. This is where the resources are burnt to create power.
(3) Transmission: After the resources are burnt to create power, this power is then transferred over a long distance to the utility company.
(4) Distribution: When it receives the energy, the utility company uses power lines to transport the energy across the utility infrastructure.
(5) Conversion: During the distribution process, high voltage power is converted for smaller use through transformers.
(6) Consumption: After the energy is converted, the meter at each home measures how much energy is used each month, and the consumer is charged accordingly. These rates, however, fluctuate based on factors totally out of the consumer’s control. These factors might include supply and demand, fuel costs, long-term debt, fixing and maintaining the utility infrastructure, fire, hurricanes, and other unforeseen problems.
On average, each of these steps will collectively cost the consumer $151.41 each month.
But when you switch to solar, you cut out 90% of the traditional power process. Your home becomes the generation plant. Conversion takes place before the energy even leaves your roof. Your energy doesn’t have to travel over long distances. There is no need for mass distribution. When you switch to solar, you receive simple, clean energy that propels you into energy self-sufficiency.
Contact Solar Energy Systems now to see how much money you can save by making the switch to solar energy. If you have any questions or would like a free quote, call us at 417-407-3006.