By Home Ideas Editor, Tammy Crosby
With the rising cost of energy, there’s never been a better time to incorporate solar into your home design. If you’re building a new home make sure to consult with your designer and builder to review your house plan for solar potential. If you’re looking to integrate solar energy into your current home you should get a home assessment from a licensed solar contractor.
Remember you can always start small with solar panels. Solar panels are modular so extra panels can be added over time. Many larger manufacturers offer solar leasing programs for little or no money down. And don’t forget to check out all the incentive and rebate programs available. Thanks to the federal tax credit program you’ll get back 30 percent of installation costs.
By incorporating passive solar design into your home you can easily optimize the power of the sun. This means proper site orientation, proper window placement, adding overhangs, awnings and porches to protect your home from overheating, building with high thermal materials like brick, stone, concrete and tile and daylighting (using natural light to illuminate interior spaces).
Our designers and architects have put together a list of some innovative, affordable solar products that are easy to install, affordable and highly efficient.
POWERHOUSE™ Solar Shingles are a hot new innovation from Dow Chemical Company that can be installed just like traditional asphalt shingles but with the added benefit of generating electricity to help lower your utility cost. What’s great about these photovoltaic shingles is that they double as your rooftop so you enjoy the savings of an all-in-one roofing and solar system. These shingles are currently available in Colorado, California and Texas. Check their website regularly as they continue to add to new markets across the US by clicking here.
You don't have to cover your roof with expensive solar panels to reap the benefits of sunlight. There are many affordable alternatives available that will light your home and help reduce your electric bill like tubular skylights (also known as solar tubes), which are great for lighting small living spaces.
Another inexpensive way to utilize the power of the sun to light up your outdoor living space and create a secure walkway is using solar outdoor lights. You can find solar path lights for around $10; affordable accent lights such as post lights and hanging lanterns for less than $100, as well as simple solar floodlight kits for around $25.
Solar-powered attic fans are a great way to ventilate the attic without any operational costs. Depending on the size of your attic, you may need more than one fan to get the maximum cooling effect. Just like tubular skylights, the panels for solar attic fans panels must be installed in an area that receives direct sunlight. For the best results, be sure that you have adequate insulation in your attic.