There’s a reason why home energy efficiency measures are referred to as the “low-hanging fruit” of home energy upgrades. Achieving an eco friendly house can be as simple as swapping out incandescent light bulbs for LEDs or installing a programmable thermostat that only heats or cools your home when you’re there to enjoy it. Simple energy efficiency measures are one of the easiest ways to make an investment in your home and reduce your home energy costs – but they will only take you so far.
Thanks to solar incentives and rebates and rapidly falling equipment prices, investing in a home solar PV system is another smart option for homeowners who are looking to reduce their energy costs. By installing a solar energy system, you can generate your own electricity and protect yourself from utility rate increases for twenty years or more.
What many homeowners don’t realize is that energy efficiency and solar panels are each effective ways to save on electricity costs, and when you combine them, they can save you even more. Here’s how it works.
How green home energy efficiency and solar power work together
When you implement green home design in your home before going solar, you reduce your electricity consumption. This in turn decreases the amount of electricity your solar panels have to generate to match your household usage. As a result, energy efficiency can help you save on the price of your solar power system by making it possible to install a smaller system with fewer panels. The end result: lower upfront costs for your new solar energy system, and the same amount of electricity bill savings over its 20+ year lifetime.
Even if you don’t have the cash to pay out of pocket for a solar energy system, the increased availability of $0-down solar loans puts home solar within reach for everyone. Most homeowners in the U.S. can achieve payback on their system in five to 10 years, meaning that all electricity that their solar panels produce after break-even is essentially free – that’s a home improvement worth making!
In addition to turning your roof into your home’s own mini power plant, going solar has another energy-efficient benefit – it makes you more aware of your energy usage. Many solar energy systems come with performance monitoring systems that help you track how much electricity your solar panels produce, how much you’re consuming at home, and how much you’re sending back to the grid. This increased level of energy awareness often results in less usage and an environmentally friendly home. (Even if you don’t install solar, you can install a home energy monitor like the Neurio W1-HEM Home Energy Monitor or the CURB Home Energy Monitoring System to get more insight into your household’s day-to-day electricity use.)
And if that wasn’t enough, pairing energy efficiency and solar power will also reduce your impact on the environment.
Comparing all your options is the smartest way to go solar
When you start exploring your solar options, be sure to compare multiple options – when solar installers compete for your business, you can save 20 percent or more off the costs of installation.
Start off by using EnergySage’s solar calculator; this energy savings tool takes electricity costs, incentives available in your area, and real-time market prices into consideration to provide you with an estimate of how much you’ll save by going solar. Once you’re ready to move forward, register your property on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace to receive multiple quotes from pre-screened, local solar installers in your area.
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This post originally appeared on Mother Earth News.