Let the Sunshine In
As we write
this edition of our newsletter, oil prices are once again over $90 a
barrel. The high cost of foreign oil is impacting the cost to heat and
light our homes.
We feel it is
time to take a fresh look at solar energy systems and consider them,
where appropriate, in future remodeling projects. As you know,
photovoltaic (PV) panels, usually mounted on rooftops, convert the
sun's energy directly to usable electricity. These solar systems can
reduce an owner's dependence on power from the local utility while
supporting conservation and environmental issues.
have come a long ways since they first became known in the
energy-conscious 1970's. For example, although solar generation is
more efficient in some areas of the country than others, geography is
no longer a limitation. A smart builder and solar expert can design
and install an effective system anywhere to reap the benefits of the
sun's infinite energy.
The quality of
PV panels has also greatly improved over the last four decades.
So-called built-in panels blend with a variety of roof finishes,
including shingles and concrete tiles, replacing big, unsightly metal
frames. PV panels are now far more efficient, so that smaller panels
generate more power. Better aesthetics combined with better function
result in systems more acceptable to remodelers, design professionals
improved efficiency, however, the goal of PV design has shifted from
entirely replacing the local utility to partially replacing its power
supply to the home. Most residential PV systems installed in the last
few years deliver 60-80% of the home's electrical requirements. The
change in design objective lowers the initial cost of the system while
delivering a reasonable return on that investment by reducing the
homeowner's monthly power bill.
supplemental PV systems often generate more electricity during the
height of a summer day than the typical house uses. This is especially
true of homes remodeled to high-performance standards. As a result,
and because the house is still tied to the power grid, the excess
electricity can be metered and sent back to the utility where it is
credited to the homeowner. When the owner again needs to draw from the
power grid, his accumulated credits are used before he is charged for
important to note that PV power generation -- and its sister
technology, solar thermal heating for domestic water -- is not a green
solution for an inefficient building. A PV or solar thermal system
reaches its full potential only when the house is designed and
remodeled to a high-performance standard. Such features as a thermally
tight building shell, above-average levels of insulation,
energy-efficient appliances and heating/cooling equipment, and
controlled ventilation all work in concert with solar energy systems
to efficiently lower the home's energy demand.
technology has brought solar power systems into renewed favor with
homeowners and remodelers. In combination with high performance or
green-building practices, supplemental PV and solar thermal systems
can be an effective hedge against rising home energy costs and helps
address everyone's concern about our country's dependence on foreign
Potter Construction, Inc
5606 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98136
(206) 935-9696 - phone
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