Since purchasing our first home three years ago, my husband and I have been continually researching ways to make our home more energy efficient. When we first moved in we made a lot of changes – replaced drafty windows, put insulation in the attic, lowered our water heater temperature, reduced the sprinkler running time. Now that some of the small changes have been made, we are looking into bigger things. One of those big changes on our list is to install solar panels.
Photo Source: DOGOnews
No, our solar panels probably won’t be shaped like Mickey Mouse. But I want to take a cue from Walt Disney World and harness some of the sun’s renewable energy. We live in Southern California and we have a huge flat roof that gets a lot of direct sunlight. Out of all the different renewable energy sources, solar power seems like the most logical option.
So much wasted surface space.
In my research about solar power I learned:
1. Solar energy is the most abundant energy on earth, with 173,000 terawatts of solar energy hitting the Earth continuously. I’m not exactly sure what a terawatt is but it sounds like a lot.
2. Solar energy is a consistent form of energy. Wind is not reliable, tides come and go, but the sun is always there, hitting the Earth somewhere.
3. Solar energy emits fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels.
4. Solar panels are a non-polluting form of energy.
5. The first solar cell was built in 1954. The New York Times proclaimed the milestone, “the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams – the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.”
6. Demand for solar energy is at an all-time high, and solar panel prices are steadily becoming more and more affordable for the average homeowner. The US is currently the third-largest solar market in the world!
7. The world’s largest operating solar thermal energy plant is right here in Southern California, which makes sense because it’s so friggin’ hot here.
I was pleased to have this opportunity to partner with SoCalGas to share some facts about solar power, specifically about heating your home’s water with solar energy. Solar water heating is an effective way to boost the efficiency of your existing hot water system while reducing energy costs. A solar water heating (solar thermal) system does not replace your existing water heater, but instead it works with it by preheating the water with the warmth of the sun to help your hot water system use less energy. This way you always have hot water, day or night, rain or shine!
Upgrading to solar water heating can help you:
- Reduce your energy consumption.
- Lower your water-heating bill.
- May be eligible for federal, state and local rebates when available.
- Make your house more environmentally friendly.
- Reduce your carbon footprint.
Choosing the right solar water heating system not only maximizes the energy you save every month but also determines your rebate from the California Solar Initiative. Ooooooh yes, I said the magic word – rebate!! The amount of your rebate is based on how much energy the solar water heating system is expected to displace annually, so it’s important to find the right system for your home. But homeowners can expect to receive a rebate up to $10,238! To receive an energy rebate you must either find a certified contractor or attend a self-installer workshop. Find more information about certified contractors here.
This is something we’ve been stewing on for a while and I think we are going to move forward with solar water heating soon. Especially now that I’ve seen the power of the sun in action. SoCalGas was kind enough to gift me this solar powered backpack that includes a small solar panel and a USB charger – perfect for charging my phone! Isn’t that awesome? It will be great for carrying around Disneyland on bright days.
If you live in Southern California and want to learn more about the #SolarH2O initiative, please be sure to check out the SoCalGas website for more information.