Solar energy has been a buzz term in the go-green movement since its inception, but if you think slapping a solar panel or two on your roof is too complicated or out of your price range, think again. The crew at Lighthouse Solar in Brentwood can answer all of your energy questions and help you select the right type of solar technology needed to help power your home.
Californians have reputation for environmental consciousness, but the number of state’s residential buildings powered by solar radiation is still relatively low. Lighthouse Solar Diablo Valley General Manager Steve Barr expects more Californians to come aboard the solar bandwagon once they realize how easy and efficient the system is to use.
“We all have to conserve,” Barr said. “It’s a great industry that allows us to actually produce a renewable resource. That is the basis of what solar energy is – it’s a renewable resource. We don’t have to burn natural gas or coal fire. Solar energy is clean energy, so we have to keep pushing it and putting more of them in the marketplace.”
Barr and Paul Melloni, his business partner and project manager, are new to the solar business, having joined Lighthouse Solar, which operates in five other states, earlier this year. But Barr said the transition to the energy business has been a welcome change, providing the gratification of knowing that he and his team are helping protect the planet one solar panel at a time.
Solar energy is the cleanest and most inexhaustible energy resource available, but the technology to turn solar radiation into electricity has been around for only about 25 years, and the field continues to advance as more homes and businesses transition to solar power.
In order for a house to harness the power of the sun’s rays, photovoltaics modules known as solar panels must be mounted to the roof or ground – wherever the residence receives the most sun exposure, typically the south side. The panels absorb the rays and convert it to electricity.
If you’re using solar power, you’re still connected to PG&E’s power grid, but when the sun rises in the morning, your energy meter will actually go backward as the solar panels absorb sunlight, banking the power for later. When the sun goes down, you continue to use the solar power that has been banked in the power grid until you’ve used all your banked energy, at which time you return to using energy generated by PG&E. Even if you never use all of your banked solar energy, you’ll still need to pay a connection fee to be in the power grid.
To ensure that you’re saving as much energy as possible, Barr said Lighthouse consultants will review your past energy bills to evaluate your annual power consumption. The consultants will offer suggestions on other ways to save power, such as replacing old appliances that consume more power with newer energy-efficient machines or adjusting the thermostat by a few degrees, as your air conditioning unit is most likely the biggest culprit of energy consumption in the summer.
Lighthouse Solar also uses Lightgauge technology, which reports your power generation and energy consumption in real time so you can monitor your energy habits whenever it’s convenient. The Lightgauge system allows you to figure out when you use the most power during the day and adjust your power-consuming habits accordingly.
“The thing I’ve found most interesting about solar is that it’s not just about the construction job, it’s more of a lifestyle change,” Barr said. “It’s amazing how many of our customers notice that once they install solar, they start to adjust some of their other energy-using habits. What’s great about solar is you drive up to your house and you see those solar panels on your roof and you know you’re doing your part to save the planet and it makes you feel good. Like our motto says, you’re becoming a part of the solution when you transition to solar power.”
Following the consultation and energy audit, the Lighthouse team will design the best solar panel for your energy needs and present a proposal. If you accept the offer, building and installation will begin shortly thereafter and within three months, your home will be powered by the sun’s rays. Barr said the average residential cost for installation is $30,000 to $40,000, but with rebates, tax credits and payment options, solar energy can be an affordable energy alternative.
For more details about how Lighthouse Solar can assist you in living a greener lifestyle, call Barr at 925-420-5121 or visit www.lighthousesolar.com.