Pros and cons of so­lar pan­els

Lesotho Times - - Property -

As res­i­den­tial elec­tric­ity tar­iffs con­tinue to in­crease and place fi­nan­cial pres­sure on house­holds, many are look­ing at al­ter­nate power sources, such as so­lar pan­els, in an at­tempt to re­duce their house­hold elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion.

Adrian Goslett, Re­gional Direc­tor and CEO of RE/MAX of South­ern Africa, says the more elec­tric­ity a house­hold uses, the more it is charged per unit of elec­tric­ity. Be­cause of this, there is a grow­ing trend of house­holds in­tro­duc­ing en­ergy-ef­fi­cient el­e­ments to curb their en­ergy us­age and over­all cost of run­ning the home.

“While the con­cept of ‘ green en­ergy’ is not new, the grow­ing cost of elec­tric­ity has led to con­sumers be­com­ing more con­scious of the en­ergy they use. A study con­ducted by the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Home Builders (NAHB) re­vealed that apart from a safe neigh­bour­hood, the fac­tor that in­flu­enced home-buying de­ci­sions the most was a home’s en­ergy ef­fi­ciency,” says Goslett.

He says el­e­ments such as so­lar pan­els have be­come in­creas­ingly more pop­u­lar with the en­ergy-ef­fi­cient move­ment gain­ing mo­men­tum. How­ever, Goslett says that there are a few pros and cons that homeown­ers should con­sider be­fore they go ahead with adding so­lar pan­els to their home:

Pro - Re­duce util­ity bill It goes with­out say­ing that us­ing power gen­er­ated from the sun will re­duce the amount of elec­tric­ity used from the main power grid, which will re­duce the house­hold’s util­ity bill. In most cases, so­lar panel sys­tems save be­tween 50% and 75% of an elec­tric­ity bill. The money saved can go to­wards pay­ing the so­lar pan­els off or other house­hold ex­penses.

Con - The up­front cost Even though so­lar pan­els have be­come more af­ford­able over the years, the ini­tial up­front cost of in­stal­la­tion can be ex­pen­sive, and it could take some time for the sys­tem to pay it­self off - typ­i­cally around seven years.

Pro - In­creases value of the home En­ergy-ef­fi­cient el­e­ments add value to a home, and a large per­cent­age of the ini­tial out­lay of such el­e­ments is re­couped when the prop­erty is sold.

“Ac­cord­ing to the NAHB, ap­prox­i­mately 61% of home buy­ers would be pre­pared to pay an ad­di­tional R50 000 to R100 000 on a home that had fea­tures which would re­duce util­ity costs,” says Goslett. Con - Won’t work on ev­ery roof There are some roof­ing ma­te­ri­als, par­tic­u­larly in older homes, that make it dif­fi­cult to in­stall so­lar pan­els such as slate tiles. There is also the mat­ter of avail­able space on the roof - many homes have limited clear space to fit the so­lar pan­els.

Pro - Re­duced car­bon foot­print Although go­ing green will save money on util­ity costs and add value to the home, the fi­nan­cial as­pect is not the only ben­e­fit. It is also about sus­tain­abil­ity and reducing the house­hold’s ef­fect on the en­vi­ron­ment and its sur­round­ings.

Gen­er­at­ing en­ergy from fos­sil fu­els emits harm­ful car­bon diox­ide and meth­ane which con­trib­utes to global warm­ing - us­ing so­lar pan­els for power does not. So­lar power also doesn’t re­quire wa­ter to process, while other en­ergy sources do.

Con - Main­te­nance As with all house­hold el­e­ments, so­lar pan­els re­quire up­keep and main­te­nance, which come at an ad­di­tional cost. The so­lar pan­els will need to be cleaned, re­paired when nec­es­sary, and in­sured.

“For the right home, in­stalling so­lar pan­els could pro­vide a sus­tain­able method of reducing both their en­ergy cost and im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment,” says Goslett.

— Prop­erty24

In most cases, so­lar panel sys­tems save be­tween 50% and 75% of an elec­tric­ity bill.

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