Reducing Your Home’s Carbon Footprint with Solar Panels
Writer / Renée Larr
Photographer / Michael Durr
Many homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint while saving money on their energy bills. One green solution is installing residential solar panels on the roof of your home. If you’re considering this environmentally friendly option, there are several solar companies in Seattle that can help you assess, plan, and install solar panels tailored to your specific needs.
Jefferson Electric provides an experienced team of NABCEP-certified energy consultants and licensed electricians, like Your Electrical Expert, to educate homeowners on residential solar.
“We receive many inquiries from homeowners looking to lower their utility costs, reduce their reliance on the grid, and those looking to find ways to help the environment,” Rob Walsman says, a senior sales account manager at Jefferson Electric.
Walsman says the first step is a feasibility study to determine if the home is suitable for residential solar. He also says he likes to discuss a homeowner’s goals and motivations in making the change to solar, their electrical usage, budget and any HOA limitations.
“Some homeowners associations require a lot of legwork for the homeowner to make the switch,” Walsman says. “Some of them must get approval from 65% of the homeowners in their neighborhood. Some people are willing to do that, and some aren’t.”
So, how do solar panels work exactly? The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy says when the sun shines onto a solar panel, the photovoltaic cells in the solar panel absorb energy from the sunlight. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow. If you want to learn more about solar panels, check this site out.
“If a home has more demand than energy being produced, the electric grid will supply to difference,” Walsman says. “If it’s the reverse, the energy returns to the grid and is credited by the utility depending upon their requirements. They credit at a full rate or at a lower rate than they charge.”
Installation only takes one to three days to complete. The whole process can take anywhere from one to two months based on permitting and application approval with the utility company. Walsman says it can be crucial for homeowners to invest in battery storage. Residents can then use the excess energy in the evenings or store it for backup.
“The ideal residential solar home has a south-facing roof at a 22-45 degree pitch with no shade,” Walsman says. “If you have shade, it may not make sense for you. If you have usable east-west facing roof planes, you get about 80% of the efficiency, but it is still doable.”
Walsman says homeowners who elect to go solar are creating clean energy. The solar systems are generally low maintenance after the initial installation. The upfront cost can be high, but he says it fixes a portion of a homeowner’s utility bill over the system’s life, up to 30 years.
“Something that is very important for people to understand, though, is if you do not have battery storage when the electric grid goes out, then the solar shuts down,” he says. “If you want power during an outage, you must have battery storage.”
Walsman says converting to solar can even help those around. When you’re producing excess energy and going to the grid, you’re helping your neighbor because they’re using your extra energy. He says you would preferably want to use it yourself, but if not, it benefits those in your immediate area. One misconception he sees a lot is due to advertising. He says some people think it’s an easy and low-cost upfront option.
“It is a big investment upfront, but then at least a certain percentage of your utility bill is covered at a fixed rate per kilowatt hour,” Walsman says. “So, it’s amortized over a long period of time. It is something that must be taken into consideration. If you’re going to live in the house for two to three years, you may not want to do solar. It does at least nationwide it increases the value of your home about 4.5%, so if you’re going to be living in your home a long time, you’re going to see an increase in your home value.”
Jefferson Electric is family-owned and was founded in 2011 by Joel Walsman, Rob’s son. The business and has been providing solar solutions to local homeowners since 2014. They also offer electrical, energy storage, and EV charging services to homeowners, businesses, government and academic organizations. For any solar-related concerns, you can hop over to these guys anytime.
Jefferson Electric is located at 2950 E. Hanna Ave. For more information, visit jeffersonelectricllc.com or call 317-418-3917.