Solar energy is the energy provided by the sun, harnessed by a technology called photovoltaic (PV) cells, which transform sunlight directly into electricity. In a layman's description of the "photovoltaic effect", when the sun strikes the photovoltaic cell, photons of light excite the electrons in the cell, causing them to flow and generate electricity. Homeowners across the country and cities around the world are installing solar panel systems on their roofs to take advantage of this clean, renewable way to generate electricity. So why should you go solar? How does it benefit you? Here are the top motivations for homeowners and business owners, and even some renters, to switch from traditional electricity to solar power.
It's good for the environment
Unlike conventional energy, solar energy produces no harmful emissions that harm the environment. It is a clean and renewable process that uses the most natural of all resources: the sun. Even the energy used to produce the photovoltaic cells is paid back soon after. Depending on the type, the energy payback time (EPBT) for PV and CPV systems is estimated at between 0.5 and 1.4 years. After this point, everything is renewable, all the time. In France, fossil fuels are used to produce 68% of the electricity we consume, and the emissions from burning these fuels are not good, including:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) - a greenhouse gas that contributes to the global warming
- Carbon monoxide (CO)
- Sulfur dioxide (SO2) - causes acid rain, which is harmful to plants and animals that live in the water, also exacerbating respiratory disease and heart disease
- Nitrogen oxides (NOx) - contributes to ground-level ozone, which irritates and damages the lungs
- Particulate Matter (PM) - causes hazy conditions in cities and scenic areas. Combined with ozone, it contributes to asthma and chronic bronchitis
- Mercury and other heavy metals - hazardous to human and animal health
Compare all this with the emission-free technology of solar energy and solar becomes the obvious solution.
It is a solid real estate investment
It's fair to say that many of the home improvements you make won't add the same value to your home as the money you put into it. Solar energy, on the other hand, will save you money on your energy bill every month. Plus, the investment you make in solar energy will add its exact property value - or more - to your home, should you decide to sell it later. Overall, buyers were willing to pay $15,000 more for a home with a medium-sized solar panel system. Not only is this likely to be more than your initial investment, but it's a return on investment that adds up to the money you've saved on energy throughout the ownership of the home. In a tough market, solar panels can even make the difference in whether or not your home sells, an added bonus that gives potential buyers a reason to consider your home over others as their next long-term home. Plus, in most areas, solar panels won't increase your property taxes. Some areas currently have property tax exemptions that exclude the added value of a solar panel system from being factored into a property's valuation for tax purposes.