Perform an Energy Audit
An energy audit is a personal, but thorough, examination of your home to determine how much energy you use, as well as ways to be more efficient with that energy. In my experience, it is very important to do this beforehand to get a better idea of how much energy you actually use. It also can help you save hundreds and in some cases thousands on your energy bills every year. Here are some ideas that can help you make your home more energy efficient:
- use ceiling fans
- make sure your home is insulated well
- use energy efficient light bulbs
- always turn off lights, computers, and other electronics when not in use
- seal your doors and windows
- unplug appliances when not in use
- use energy efficient appliances
If you would like more information on how to perform an energy audit, visit Using Your Energy More Efficiently.
Most people believe that converting to solar energy is an all-or-nothing affair, but that simply is not the case. In my experience I started with two solar panels and still kept my “traditional” energy as well. This gives you an opportunity to see if you like using solar panels, without having so much time and money invested you can not turn back. It also gives you a chance to compare different brands and types of solar panels. I have read of some people comparing solar panels from different companies using this technique.
Don’t Install Panels Yourself
Once you have done some experimenting and shopping around for solar panels and have finally found the type and brand you want to go with I recommend hiring a professional installer to get them set up. Many people try to install their own solar panels and end up getting into a mess. After reading several horror stories online about self installation I hired mine out and would recommend readers do the same.
Familiarize Yourself with the Market
As previously mentioned, there are many different types of solar panels on the market. The most heavily used types are monocrystalline silicon solar cells, polycrystalline silicon solar cells, and thin film solar cells. While no one type is regarded as the best, they all have advantages and disadvantages depending on factors such as: type of home, amount of energy needed, climate, etc. To learn more about the different types of panels please read Energy Informative’s article on choosing solar panels.