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Question DetailsAsked on 6/13/2011

Solar panel alternatives

A local company said the government would not approve our house for solar heating because of a tree next door blocking the sun. Are there alternatives? I’ve heard of geothermal heat, but don't know if that is an option...

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There are several different options to consider when choosing a form of clean, renewable energy for your home. A geothermal heating system is an efficient way to produce hot or cold air; in fact, it uses roughly one-fifth the electricity of a conventional system to produce the same amount of air. It’s the most common form of renewable energy in homes. While there aren’t any federal incentives, a few states offer rebate programs. Another source is wind power. It’s better in rural areas, where there is more open space, and it needs (obviously!) a strong source of wind. You can even save money with wind power — through 'net metering,' a program where your utility company may credit you for returning power back to them, something that could happen on windy days (or sunny, in the case of solar panels). Solar energy panels can produce energy even in the winter or on cloudy days, and they can heat water, too. Solar energy is also eligible for net metering. There are also many state and federal incentives to use solar panels in your home. Visit the Database of State Incentive for Renewables & Efficiency for more information on some of these programs. When shopping for solar panels, you’ll need to select the panels based on the total wattage needed for your home. For example, if you need 3,000 watts and you like 200-watt solar panels, you’ll need to buy 15 (3,000 divided by 200) panels. You might choose to buy fewer, larger panels so that you have to do less wiring, or you might pick smaller panels, which are easier to carry. Other factors could include the color, manufacturer and price. New solar panel technology includes the use of nanoparticles and organic dyes, which make the panels partially transparent and easier to blend in with your home, and more inexpensive solar cells that can be simply printed or painted on plastic sheets. Eventually, homeowners might be able to print the solar cells onto the plastic themselves.

Answered 7 years ago by Angie's List




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