Decreasing Your Carbon Footprint with Solar Energy

Jori Hamilton - Contributing Writer

Posted on Thursday 30th January 2020
Two story house with Solar Panels, green lawn and shrubs


Image Source: Unsplash

Recently, California became the first state to require that all newly-constructed homes be built with solar panels. The state put this law into place in an effort to decrease its overall carbon footprint and help to fight back against things like climate change and other environmental issues facing the planet today. 

There has been plenty of debate over whether other states will follow California’s lead, but whether they do or not, it’s undeniable that solar energy has become a popular topic in recent years. Solar energy works by allowing the sun to activate the silicon atoms in solar panels. It can seem like a complicated process, but when these atoms are positively “charged,” they can produce energy/electricity. 

The idea of solar power is nothing new, but solar energy in the home is still something that’s being slowly introduced. Even though there are several types of renewable energy resources available today, solar energy remains the most feasible for home use

So, what do you need to know about solar energy? How will it help you to decrease your carbon footprint? What else can you do to create a more sustainable environment for the future? 

What Are the Benefits of Solar Energy? 

There are so many obvious benefits to consider when talking about this renewable energy source. First of all, the environmental benefits alone make installing solar panels worth it. Solar power doesn’t generate any waste. It doesn’t pollute the air the way that many fossil fuels do. That leads to a decrease in carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, which are often linked to climate change. 

The power plants that are used to process fossil fuels are also a big problem, and they’re having a hugely negative impact on our ocean and marine life. Toxic emissions have made some underwater species nearly extinct, and land animals aren’t safe from extinction, either, as those same emissions are released into the air. 

Not only do solar panels help the planet, but they can benefit your health and home, too. With fewer fossil fuels being used, the air can be cleaner, which can help with a variety of respiratory issues including asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and even certain heart conditions. Cleaner air can improve your quality of life and even lengthen your life expectancy. 

Need even more convincing? How about saving money? When you use solar energy to power your home, your utility bills will go down significantly, since you’re relying less on fossil fuels to light and heat your house. Not only does that increase your home’s overall value, but it will decrease your tax liability, too. 

How to Install Solar Panels at Home

If you’re interested in installing solar panels or buying a new home that already has them in place, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, whether you’re buying a home or installing new panels, it’s important to not only know how much energy you’ll need but to have the right appliances in place. All of your appliances should be backed with an EnergyStar rating. It’s also a good idea to have backup systems in place in case there’s ever a problem with your panels. 

One of the biggest questions people have when considering solar panels is how much it will cost. Thankfully, because solar energy is becoming more popular, the cost of installation has gone down significantly in recent years. The average cost will depend on the size of your house and how much energy you need. On average, though, the cost usually adds up to around $20,000. While that seems like a big investment, consider how much you’ll be saving on utilities.

There are also several financing options you can take advantage of to install solar panels on your house. You can spend the money and buy the panels outright, which gives you the opportunity to take advantage of several government rebate programs and other incentives, including: 

  • Tax credits from the IRS

  • Solar renewable energy credits

  • Net metering

  • Property tax exemptions

You can also take out secured or unsecured loans to fund your solar panel installation, or rent/lease your panels. You may have to make a commitment to make payments for a number of years, but if you’re anxious to use renewable energy in your home and can’t afford to pay for it all right now, it’s a good option for making payments you can afford. 

The Commitment to Decreasing Your Carbon Footprint

It’s likely that solar panels will continue to become more popular across the country (and hopefully, the world!). They’re becoming easier to install, cheaper to purchase, and with California leading the charge in sustainability, it’s bringing more awareness to people who may not have thought much about their carbon footprint before. 

So, if you have the resources to install solar panels on your home, now you know the benefits. But, if it’s not the right time for you to do that, it doesn’t mean you can’t take other steps to decrease your carbon footprint. Small changes at home can make a big difference. 

Things like simply keeping your furnace and air conditioning units tuned up, planting shady trees around your house, insulating your home, and even turning off lights when you leave a room can save energy, and save you money. Understanding the importance of sustainability, and having a willingness to do something about it will be what creates a more sustainable future for the next generation and beyond. Renewable energy sources, like solar energy, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what we can accomplish in creating a cleaner, greener future.

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