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March 13, 2019
Welcome to part three of our “Low Carbon Home Comfort” blog series! In this series, we’re reflecting on the real impact human activities are having on climate change — and focusing on what homeowners here in Maine and elsewhere can do to achieve “low carbon home comfort.”
In part one, we discussed the importance of making your home as energy efficient as possible with energy saving upgrades like weatherization and basement encapsulation. Then in part two, we dove into how heat pumps can reduce your reliance on fossil fuels and “electrify” your home, preparing it for future renewable energy upgrades like solar.
Now, in part three, we’re discussing one more home upgrade you can make to significantly increase your energy independence: installing solar panels and battery storage.
Solar Offsets Your Home’s Electricity Needs
As you may remember from parts one and two, energy efficiency upgrades like weatherization reduce the overall amount of energy your home consumes, while installing a heat pump allows you to use electricity instead of fossil fuels like oil and natural gas to heat and condition your home.
Once your home is as energy efficient as possible and relies on electricity instead of fossil fuels, the next step is to offset your electricity needs with solar. Installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system allows you to generate free and clean electricity from the sun, reducing or even eliminating your reliance on the power grid. This renewable energy will power your heating and cooling system, lights, appliances, and everything else in your home that runs on electricity. You can even plan to have your solar panels supply the energy needed to charge electric vehicles down the road!
How much electricity your solar system generates largely depends on the size of your system, as well as other factors such as roof orientation, shading, and outdoor temperature. (Cooler temperatures are actually best for solar panel efficiency.) Many homeowners here in Maine choose to install a grid-tied solar energy system — which supplies a home with electricity during the day when energy production is at its highest and draws from the power grid at night or at times when energy production is low.
Add Battery Storage for Even Greater Energy Independence
For even greater energy independence when you go solar, we recommend adding battery storage to your solar PV system. Battery storage allows you to store the excess energy your system generates during the day for use at night or other times of low energy production. With a large enough solar + battery storage system, you can even go “off-grid” and secure your home against issues with the electricity grid and those infamous Maine power outages!
You Also Have Green Power Buying Options
If your roof is not well suited for solar panels, or a solar PV system simply isn’t in the budget at the moment, there are alternative options that still allow you to harness the benefits of clean, renewable energy.
Maine Green Power Program
Here in Maine, the Maine Green Power program allows homeowners to match the electricity they use with energy generated from renewable resources, such as wind, hydro, and biomass. Participants simply purchase “blocks” of energy through their utility bill for as low as $4.95 per month, and these blocks are matched to Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) produced in Maine.
Want to own solar panels but don’t have the ability to put them on your own roof or property? Consider community solar, which allows you to purchase a share of a larger solar array in your local community. 100% of the energy generated by the array goes to the power grid, and then shareholders automatically receive credit based on their stake in the solar array. One perk to this option is you can take your share with you even if you sell your home and move elsewhere in the community.
Considering Solar? Get Ready with the Right Upgrades
If you’re considering clean solar energy for your home, make sure your home is ready for the switch by making the right energy saving upgrades first. Evergreen Home Performance is here to help you reduce your home’s carbon footprint and make it more energy efficient — so you can be ready to harness the full benefits of solar. Then, we can refer you to one of our trusted solar partners for your solar panel installation. To get started, schedule a free energy consult with us!