Green living: Save Our Earth By Living Green

Will Solar Power Really Save the Environment?

With rising energy prices playing a leading role in the increased cost of living, solar power is gaining popularity. While many people are opting to harness the power of the sun to reduce the bills, there are also those who are keen to reduce their carbon footprint by utilising a renewable resource. Whatever your motivation, solar power can pay for itself in only a few years. Just remember to use a qualified electrician when installing any system and to do your research, because there are many options available.

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Photo: baboon

Harnessing the power of the sun
Solar energy systems work by placing solar panels on your roof, which are then linked to your home’s power. The energy produced by these panels can then be used to help offset the electricity you use from the grid or used as a stand-alone system. Most people opt for a system that is connected to the power grid, which reduces a home’s reliance on public power and can cut your power bills in the process. In many cases the extra power produced by your home solar power is fed back into the grid and the utility actually pays you.

Choosing the right system
There are plenty of companies offering solar power, but before you decide on who to use it is a good idea to do an energy audit of your home. This involves seeing how much power you use – it can be surprising how much energy appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and televisions use. There are simple tools that can be used to determine your usage – they can even be hired from your energy provider. Working with an accredited installer/provider, you can then make an informed decision.

There are different types of solar panels rated for different parts of Australia, so it is important to get what is appropriate for your area. Firstly, get three quotes from suppliers– they will come to your home, discuss your options and provide advice. The size of your energy system – which is usually referred to in terms of kilowatts (eg 1.5kW) – is also influenced by the roof space available. The more solar panels, the more power produced. But they need to be facing the right direction, which in Australia is north.

It is a good idea to check with your energy utility and your solar power provider if a new meter is required at the home. This can be an extra cost and it usually needs to be installed by the power utility provider. In some parts of Australia the demand for solar connections has been so high that the wait time for these meters has been drawn out.

Tariffs and rebates
Depending on your State, there may be rebates available for installing solar power which will cut the cost of your purchase. Feed-in tariffs differ around the country as well for the electricity that you put back into the grid.

Better for the environment
Solar power is a clean form of energy that has no by-products. By using solar power, you reduce your reliance on the power grid, which uses fossil fuels to produce its energy. The less of this power we use, the fewer harmful emissions are released into the atmosphere. It is a safe, green alternative that effectively reduces your family’s carbon footprint. So while you can see your power bills diminish, you can also be proud of the impact it is having on the environment.

Solar power has many positives to it for the end user. Not only is it better financially for the consumer, but it also benefits the environment, which is something we should all be conscious of as well.

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