There are many reasons to invest in a solar system. Besides generating your own renewable energy, it may be an appropriate application for your particular home, or maybe you want more reliable power than your utility provides. But the #1 reason why people invest in solar is to reduce their energy costs.

Reducing your energy bill with a solar system involves several key decisions and starts with collecting some basic information about your energy usage, solar access, and budget. Maybe you want to do your part for the environmental and global warming by adapting renewable energy technology for your home. Maybe you want your solar system to provide back up power in case of a utility power outage: or maybe you want your lights on and refrigerator to stay cold during an outage. Any way you look at it, solar is a good investment, so what are you waiting for?

If you are unfamiliar with a specific term, visit the solar glossary in Appendix A for a comprehensive listing of renewable energy and electrical terms.

energy efficiency

Before getting started in designing any solar home system, you must look at your energy load (usage) first. The highest financial return on any energy system is to make it more effective and efficient. It would be foolhardy to waste renewable energy. Let’s look at your basic home energy usage patterns.

The best (and most economical) way to get started with a solar system is to reduce your energy load by making your electrical usage as efficient as possible. This costs the least amount of money and has the highest rate of return. It makes no sense to heat your water with solar energy if your hot water faucets are leaking; or to use solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to power lights left on unnecessarily during daytime. Achieving energy efficiency means going through your home, looking at all your lights, heating + cooling system, appliances, etc and figuring out how to reduce your energy bill. The US Department of Energy is a great resource to help you get started.

Energy Savers [ ] provides homeowners with tips for saving energy and money at home and on the road. By following a few simple tips found at this Web site you can make your home more comfortable and easier to heat and cool—saving you money. This web site brings you the latest information on energy-saving, efficient technologies. Some of the tips are simple to do. Others require more effort and investment, but promise big savings over the years. Visit to learn more about home energy efficiency initiatives.

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