A super energy efficient home draws on today’s latest technologies to reduce unnecessary energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and the demand for nonrenewable resources. A home designed around energy efficiency is far easier and cheaper to light, heat and cool than other homes. The good news is that both new and existing homes can be upgraded with energy efficient systems. Here’s a little more on what a super energy-efficient home looks like today. Solar Panels An increasingly popular upgrade, a solar panel system can cut an average home’s electric bill in half. In some cases, electric bills have gone down to zero. And on sunny days when no one’s home to use electricity, a solar system can actually pump electricity back into the grid (electric utility), allowing the homeowner to get an energy credit from the utility. Roof top installation is easy and the panels generate electricity even on cloudy days. High-Efficiency Insulation A super energy efficient home will fully exploit the latest exterior and interior insulation technologies. This makes a home less dependent on active (powered) systems for heating and… Read more

On a personal level, going solar—putting solar panels on your roof—has many benefits: your electric bills will go down, you won’t have to worry about rate hikes or be paralyzed when blackouts occur and you may even get money back from your utility provider. But there are other economic benefits to going solar, too - benefits that not only make the world a better place, but make for a stronger global economy. Going Solar Creates Jobs The increasing demand for solar power calls for more solar panels, inverters, electrical distribution panels, meters and other installation parts. These parts and assemblies are made, tested and installed by skilled, specially-trained employees. Result: more job growth in the renewable energy sector. According to data compiled by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit The Solar Foundation, which recently published its annual National Solar Jobs Census, the U.S. solar energy sector employed nearly 174,000 workers in manufacturing, construction, engineering, sales and other industries as of November 2014—a 22 percent jump over the previous year. In fact, a new report released in January of this year showed that… Read more

It’s been a year since you had solar panels installed on your home and you love the energy savings. Not only that, you actually feel like you're giving back to the community. You're going green, using renewable energy to power your home and doing something great for the environment. Yet, somehow, your neighbors still aren't on board. They're on the fence about solar power, not convinced by your do-good-feel-good attitude and unsure about their long term savings. But you've decided to help them make the switch from grid dependency to solar energy freedom. Where to start? Don't worry! We've got some ideas on how to get the conversation started. Soon, you'll all be savings tons of money and reminiscing about how long it took you to make the switch. 1. Tell them they're not alone. Home solar systems have gone mainstream, with one being installed every 3.2 minutes. According to recent Solar Industry Data, the U.S. solar industry is expected to complete its 1 millionth installation in 2015. Installing solar is way past its experimental stages. In fact, your neighbors will be falling behind… Read more

The price of oil has plummeted from more than $100 a barrel in July 2014 to less than $50 in January 2015. While falling oil prices may have a significant effect on how often people drive and can add to their spendable income, falling oil prices won't affect the solar industry, notes Tom Werner, CEO of the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, SunPower Corp. Sun Power Insulated from Fossil Fuels According to the International Energy Agency, green energy will remain insulated from oil price drops over the next decade, staying competitive with fossil fuels. The cost of electricity from a typical advanced combined-cycle natural gas power plant is 6.4 cents a kilowatt-hour for plants coming online in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Department; yet, First Solar Inc., a solar farm in New Mexico, has a deal to sell electricity for 5.79 cents a kilowatt-hour. The cost of energy from solar will continue to drop as technology improves both PV panel efficiency and delivery. Oil and Solar in Different Ballparks Oil and renewable energy compete in different energy arenas. Though oil is mostly… Read more

As more homeowners decide to install solar panels on their homes to lower their electric bills, the challenge becomes finding a qualified and reputable solar installer. Unfortunately, not all solar installers have the experience or expertise needed to do the job right. So, how do you select the solar installer that’s right for you? We've got some guidelines to help you through the process. Get started! Look for a Proven Track Record Start by asking family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers who installed their solar systems. Check out consumer reviews of installers who serve your zip code or neighborhood. Look for high ratings and satisfied customers, but don’t immediately exclude an installer for one negative comment—see how they corrected the problem before making up your mind. Get Multiple Quotes  Get a free quote from several installers in your area. Beside serving as a price guide, a quote request can reveal how responsive a company will be once they get the job. Ideally, the solar installer should get back to you the day after you call or contact them. How the prospective… Read more