When future civilizations look back at us, they’ll likely ask two questions: where was the 49ers defense during week 2, and why did it take people so long to switch to solar energy?
With lower water levels reducing hydropower and environmental restrictions among our coastal power plants, we already have a state that is looking for better answers. The solution could be glaring right down at us.
It seems too good to be true. The average homeowner could commit to living greener, and within a few days could forever lower their carbon footprint – and their utility bill – at no net cost. The answer to the “future question” is actually pretty straightforward. No one owns the sun (and can thus profit from it) and we haven’t figured out how to weaponize sunshine yet; otherwise, we would have figured out solar energy ages ago. So what’s keeping people from making the switch?
Myths, Folktales, and Fairy Tales
Myth 1- “There’s not enough sun in San Francisco.”
The Bay Area tends to be cloudy and foggy, but despite what you might think, we get more than enough sun to justify using solar power. If you have ever been sunburned on a cloudy day, you realize many of the sun’s rays are getting through, and newer panels are great at collecting diffused sunlight.
Germany produces half of the world’s solar energy, and they only get as much light (annually) as Alaska. Our modest temperatures actually increase the efficiency of most units. For example, solar panels in cloudy San Francisco actually generate more power than Sacramento; if Portland can do it, so can we.
Myth 2- “It’s too expensive.”
Most people who make the switch don’t pay anything up front. There are “no-money-down” loans and “equipment leases” available. Using solar energy can replace a portion of (if not all of) your monthly energy costs.
That’s not even considering other financial incentives. Our state requires “net metering,” which allows you to sell excess power your solar panels produce, back into the grid. Should we even mention California is chock-full of rebates that help cover the cost? See the example below of a home in the Bay Area.
A breakdown of solar options from HERE.
Myth 3- “Solar panels are a lot of maintenance.”
Not true at all. I mean, I guess you might want to clean them once in awhile, the same as you might clean your roof tiles or your gutters. The panels themselves generally don’t require maintenance, as there are no moving parts and they often last longer than the roof they are on! Many of our earliest satellites shot into space during the 60’s were solar powered, and they are still going strong.
Myth 4- “My home is too old for solar panels.”
Now, there are some buildings that are too old to switch to solar without some significant upgrades. They’re called castles, along with any other building that was built before 1900, and hasn’t been properly wired for electricity. The general rule we work with is this: If you have an acceptable service panel for power, we can hook solar up to it. We need to be able to connect you to the grid so you can get more power if you need it and be able sell your excess solar energy back when necessary.
The Future is Now
Currently, our society uses a hub and spokes model for power distribution. We collect all of the energy at one point, and then send it through the lines to everyone who needs it and wants to pay, and these prices are only going up.
As energy prices continue to rise, solar power is turning that model on its head and power companies hate it. Now, the end user can collect their own green energy, and turn the excess over where it is needed.
“These are not just solar enthusiasts anymore,” says Tom Kimbis, VP of Solar Energy Industries Association. “The vast majority of residential installations — by a long shot — are done because solar is affordable and it’s saving money.”
San Francisco’s residential & commercial roofing experts