Implementing solar power doesn’t have to be difficult! If the thought of converting to renewable energy conjures up images of your house looking like a construction site and money flying out of your wallet, prepare for your reality check.
The truth is that a variety of factors are driving the price of solar technology ever further down. The glass on solar panels is the same glass used on flat-screen TVs. Ten years ago, this same glass would’ve been a novel piece of technology that would’ve had to have been specifically manufactured for solar use. Being so commonplace as they are now, it has become cheaper to produce, and as a result, solar panels are cheaper for the consumer. Ingenious science has even allowed solar panels to be made out of silicon on thin sheets of plastic. With this new advent, there’s no telling where or on what solar panels will appear next (cell phones, perhaps?).
As tempting the idea is to flip your entire house over to solar energy, try by starting with the small stuff. As with any project, it becomes a lot less overwhelming if you focus on little parts one at a time. Start by making one particular room, your computer, or even your MP3 charger solar-sufficient. While you’ll be saving a little bit on your electrical bill by doing this, more importantly, you’ll be more aware of your energy consumption. Being energy-conscious is an important step that is easy to overlook. Many leave the lights on all night without even thinking about it, but when you’re the one providing the energy for those lights, the responsibility will help remind you to keep your power use in check.
For the truly ambitious, or just the avid handyman, the process of taking your house off the electrical grid completely is actually quite a doable job. Days and a few hundred dollars are all that you’ll need to part with. Michael Boxwell, author of Solar Electricity Handbook, can attest to this: “It’s not a big job,” he guarantees. “I spent about $150-$200, and I’ve got a basic system” (Boxwell has enough panels just to take care of the lighting in his home).
To make the most of it, just make sure you have a home with a good view of the sun year-round and a surface where you can put your solar panels. Just a simple change can reduce your carbon footprint, and free yourself from the shackles of conventional electricity in the event of a power failure, blackout, or just the annoying blown fuse.