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Present and Future Benefits of Solar Powered Homes

Essay by   •  November 22, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,301 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,638 Views

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Introduction

The following is a feasibility study on the need to apply solar power for homes and the benefits to be expected from it. This report contains information on the expected benefits of using solar power for homes in place of traditional methods of power such as electricity and gas. Solar power is beneficial to consumers because it saves them money compared to the increasingly high prices of conventional methods of generation. Solar power is also beneficial to society because it is much safer for our environment than the burning of fossil fuels or the use of nuclear power that is characteristic of gas and electricity power. This report explores solar power as an alternate and superior means of power generation for homes.

Discussion and Results

"Photovoltaics--A Path to Sustainable Futures", a journal article by Joshua M. Pierce states that since 1957, electricity demand in the US has increased by over 450% while the US population has increased by only 50%, which illustrates how the demand for electricity has grown. During the first half of the 20th century, the national average price of electricity decreased as more efficient generating units were brought into service and this general trend has continued, but more electricity is needed so there is a need for different methods of generation like nuclear and solar power. Nuclear and fossil fuel generation have many negative environmental impacts, so there is a need for change which enables consumers to reduce dependence on these harmful technologies. "Photovoltaics--A Path to Sustainable Futures" states that new technology such as solar power has become a primary focus for researchers and they not only believe solar power to be environmentally safer but more cost effective as well. All of us are electricity consumers and therefore are familiar with this issue that directly affects us. When looking at alternate ways to produce electricity, one matter that particularly stands out is the consumer's cost for the use of electricity compared to the use of solar power. According to www.solcomhouse.com, over 200,000 homes in the U.S. use some type of solar technology and more than 10,000 homes are entirely power by solar energy.

The advantages of using solar power for homes, also known as Photovoltaic systems, are numerous. Many solar-powered products ranging from calculators to power tools are common and these products are economical since they do not require battery replacement. When this technology is used for power generation in homes the advantages benefit not only the consumer but the environment as well. Natural resources do not harm the environment and have a low operating cost.

Photovoltaic cells (PV cells), originally developed to be used in space, are used in solar panels for homes. According to "Convincing the Home Builder to Build Solar Homes--Evaluation of the Passive Solar Workshop for Builders" by S. Klein, they are reliable because they operate for a long time with practically no maintenance. The average PV system runs dependably for about 30 years before any major maintenance is required. Since PV cells use the energy from sunlight to produce electricity, the fuel is free to the consumer. Also, PV cells have no moving parts so the solar panels require little maintenance. These low-maintenance, cost-effective PV systems are ideal for supplying power to homes in remote areas far from utility power lines and homes in ordinary communities.

While most people are concerned with the safety of the environment, the initial cost of a PV system prevents them from making the switch to solar power. Federal and state governments recognize this and offer annual rebates and tax incentives to customers who install PV systems in their homes. Consumers with PV systems in their homes will save about 60-70% on their utility bills. These savings will exceed the original cost of a PV system in about 10-12 years. After the initial cost is covered, the customer is still saving thousands of dollars in utilities compared to electricity and gas usage. As we burn more fossil fuels and use more nuclear in our electricity usage, the costs of electricity and gas would be subject to increase over the years. With a solar powered home, monthly bills would stay about the same no matter how expensive electricity and gas become. The financial savings of solar-powered homes is an extra benefit for consumers who know that their homes are helping to preserve our environment.

According to Solar Heating Systems: Analysis and Design with the Sun-Pulse Method by Gordon F. Tully, PV systems do not harm the environment as do conventional methods of power generation. The sun is an infinite source of energy and since its use for powering homes causes no damage to the

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