Renewable Energy Home solar panel system

Published on February 6th, 2012 | by Britt Mauriss

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8 Invaluable Resources for Installing Solar in 2012

Home solar panel system

Going solar is a beautiful thing. It not only saves money on your electrical bills for decades to come—it conserve the earth’s precious resources as well. But where to turn for current, insightful resources on solar panels, pricing, financing and incentive options in 2012? How to know how much energy your home consumes right now, and how much you can save down the road with solar-powered renewable energy?

I’ve gathered eight amazing resources to get you started on the path to solar independence. Here’s how to go solar in 2012.

1. Solar Energy Basics

For a clear-cut introduction on what solar energy is and how it works, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is a great resource. Read up about photovoltaic (PV) systems, how much energy (kilowatts) an average system produces, and more.

2. Conventional Electricity Costs

Want to check typical solar costs in your state? The Energy Information Administration (EIA) just updated their State Electricity Profiles data. The data reveals the current average retail prices of conventional electricity costs for each state in a price-per-kilowatt hour breakdown.

3. How Much Electricity Do You Need?

Your next step is to assess how much energy your home consumes per month. This is a good way to see if solar power is right for you, and what percentage of your monthly costs you can offset with solar. For example, the EIA’s latest evaluation of electricity use in American homes shows that in 2010, the average home consumed 958 kilowatt-hours per month. If you can reduce your energy below this mark, you’ll only require a small-to-medium solar power system. To learn more about the percentage of electricity that each device in a home uses, and how to reduce that amount, check the EIA FAQs.

4. Determining PV System Size

As a part two to the step above, you can look at different solar system sizes to match your monthly energy goal. Although you’ll want to consult with professional solar installers for a definitive answer, Sizing Your Small Solar Electric System has some useful information about determining how large your system should be, how much roof space you’ll need, and more.

5. Solar Incentives

For the most comprehensive information about all the incentive programs that are currently offered, programs that can reduce the cost of your solar installation by as much as 60 percent, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE), funded by EERE, is your best source. DSIRE provides information about programs offered by utilities, as well as governmental programs on the federal, state and local level.

6. Green Energy Blogs

Things move fast in the world of solar energy. One day you’re looking at solar panels, and the next you might be considering solar paint or energy-harvesting windows. There’s a lot to take in. For up-to-date solar news, subscribe to a few clean energy blogs. CleanTechnica, for instance, covers a variety of energy topics and fresh innovations in solar. GreenBuildingElements does the same, with posts on record-breaking solar panel efficiencies, green building materials and more.

7. Industry Information

One of the most respected solar industry organizations is the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). SEIA conducts ongoing research on the solar industry. Contractors who are SEIA members are kept abreast of changing technologies, regulations and trends in the industry.

8. Finding Contractors

As the largest network of solar contractors in the country, CalFinder Solar is a great source for finding the perfect solar contractor for your home PV installation. Compare free estimates on solar panel systems, read up on cutting-edge solar shingles, and more.

Dirk Nowitzki (L) of the Dallas Mavericks drives to the basket…

Getty Images June 8, 2011 | ROBYN BECK

Getty Images 06-08-2011 Dirk Nowitzki (L) of the Dallas Mavericks drives to the basket… in our site dallas mavericks schedule

Full Size JPG (1902 KB) Dirk Nowitzki (L) of the Dallas Mavericks drives to the basket during game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 7, 2011 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 86-83. AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) go to website dallas mavericks schedule

ROBYN BECK




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About the Author

Brittany Mauriss is a UCLA grad with a passion for all things renewable energy. Her specialties are solar advancements, green gadgets and human-centric journalism. She also manages CalFinder Solar, an awesome free service that connects you with residential solar contractors, eco-focused kitchen remodel pros, and more. Follow her on Twitter @BrittanyMauriss.



6 Responses to 8 Invaluable Resources for Installing Solar in 2012

  1. Pingback: UK Groups Push for the Grassroots Solar & Wind Energy Route – CleanTechnica : Grow Electricity – Tips and Resources for using wind and solar

  2. Pingback: » 8 Invaluable Resources for Installing Solar in 2012 – Green Building Elements » Energized Energized

  3. Brittany–another great resource for folks considering a solar installation is EnergySage.com. It provides consumers with free information about the entire clean energy process from beginning to end. There’s a great wizard that helps people to find the right kind of system, case studies from people in their area who already have systems installed, discussion boards to ask others in the community about their experiences, help finding installers and financiers….check it out.. Send me an email, I”d love to send you the press release announcing its launch. Thanks!

  4. Wayne says:

    Brittany, I could not agree more. There has always been two barriers of solar technology. Price & Acceptance, Pricing has dramtically inproved over the past decade and is reaching parity with conventional sources in many areas. Acceptance will only come with education, of how it works and the benefits. People just will not invest in what they do not understand. So my pet project has been a program soon to be available to help. Photovoltaic (PV) is a science with a lot of calculations, and consumers with a lot of questions. TPVS1.0 helps with the calculations, that answer the questions.
    http://www.turbopvsolar.com
    Keep up the great work!
    Wayne

  5. Stu says:

    Great list of resources for those in the US. The variation in incentives from state to state must be mind-boggling for some consumers. In the UK we have the feed-in tariff, which pays a fixed rate based on the amount of electricity generated plus an additional payment for any energy that is put back into the grid. We also have the Renewable Heat Incentive, which pays a fixed rate to consumers based upon the amount of heat generated by the renewable energy system.

  6. fantastic issues altogether, you just won a brand new reader.
    What could you suggest in regards to your post that you simply made a
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