Considering the increase in electrical bills, not to mention the huge impact traditional energy is having on our planet, it is always a good idea to “go green.” With recent advances in technology, solar energy is now a viable alternative not only for commercial purposes but also the average homeowner.
While the initial investment required to install a solar energy system may seem discouraging, in most cases the eventual combined savings make up for it in the long run. The salve to your conscience because of the reduced carbon footprint doesn’t hurt either.
Once you have decided to switch your house to solar energy, there are practicalities and steps to be considered. It is always best to do your research and make the home repairs and installations that may affect the project timeline well before installation day arrives.
This will ensure that you can make informed decisions and that the actual work goes as smoothly as possible. Here are a few pointers for getting your house ready and waiting for that final transition:
Choose the right person for the job
Choosing the right solar installation company or contractor is the first and most important step. Since alternative or green energy is gaining popularity, there are many installers or contractors available to do the job.
Make sure that you check their references and completed projects before signing on. In addition to the quality of equipment and work, they should also be ’efficient’ to save on project delays and unseen or ’soft’ costs like labor and administration.
Research companies that have the best references and are using the latest management platforms that make them more efficient at what they do.
Research your equipment
While your solar installer will advise what equipment would be best suited to your house, make sure that you do the research yourself as well.
The best international brands may not be the ones most suited to your needs. You may also want a customized installation to suit your house. For example, some solar panels are more suited to the climate of your area, while others might offer a longer warranty.
You might also want to negotiate a workmanship or service warranty with your contractor or installation company as well as a maintenance agreement.
Compile a history of your house’s electric requirements
To get a better idea of the amount of power you need your solar energy installation to produce, start recording your electrical consumption. Ideally, collect and record a whole year’s bills to get a specific idea of your electrical usage during the cold and hot seasons. You can then share this information with your installer who can plan your system as per your needs.
A record of your previous electrical billing will also allow you to make comparisons and calculate actual savings after you install and start using your solar energy system.
Inspect and clear the installation area
Once you are certain about your requirements, do a physical sweep of the area where you will install your solar panels. Make sure that your targeted area is free of shade and receives sunlight for the longest duration possible.
Measure the available space to make sure it can accommodate the solar panels. The solar panel installation will depend on the amount, and angle of sunlight your house receives as well as the area you have available. Clear any debris and make sure that you do any repairs or maintenance that might be needed.
Make sure your roof is ready
The roof should be able to bear the added weight of the panels, and you might want to get it reinforced before installing the solar panels.
Since the racks that bear the panels are attached directly to your roof, any roof repairs that are needed after your installation is complete will require complete removal of the panels before construction work can be done. Your installer will of course also inspect the area and recommend any repairs, but it is always good to be prepared.
Allocate space in your house
A solar energy system requires an inverter that will convert the energy stored in the panels to usable electricity for your house. You might want to reorganize or even build new cabinets near your electrical panel to house the inverter.
Make sure that you receive the dimensions of the equipment beforehand and have everything ready by the time installation day comes around.
Upgrade your electrical panel
Before converting your house to solar energy, make sure that your installation company or contractor inspects the electrical panel that you are currently using. It should be able to adapt to the new wiring and be capable of sustaining the expected energy levels that will be produced by the new system.
Make sure that any updates or changes are done by an experienced electrical worker before installation day to avoid delays.
Make your house energy efficient
In addition to converting from traditional electricity to solar power, make sure to maximize your house’s overall energy efficiency. Install smart appliances that regulate the use of electricity and have energy saving modes and timers. You can also install energy efficient LED lights or motion sensitive lights, especially for outdoor or night use.
Maximize your house’s cooling or heating efficiency, depending on the climate you live in, by making sure that your doors and windows do not have draft or leaks that allow air to escape. You can also get your house insulated to reduce the overall energy consumption to get your space to the right temperature.
Don’t let this list of things get you worried. Do your research and select a qualified solar energy company or contractor and the process of making your house energy efficient and running on solar power should be smooth.
While a certain level of trust is required when working with any contractor, make sure to ask questions and make your own decisions while keeping an eye on the progress.