When considering renewable energy options, few make more sense than solar energy. The sun is one of the most reliable objects in human existence: it has been shining for billions of years, and it will continue to shine for billions more. Logically, taking advantage of the essentially unlimited solar power the sun is emitting is the best way to reduce our carbon footprint without sacrificing any of the comforts we’ve become accustomed to; fortunately, there are a number of ways to do this. And if you’re wondering “what is solar energy and how does it work,” we’ll tackle that as well.
Let The Light Shine Down
John Denver may be famous for saying “sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy,” but we say sunshine on our roofs is better. Depending on your physical location, you have two options for solar paneling: off-the-grid and on-the-grid.
Off-the-grid solar energy systems are ideal for those who live in rural, sunny places as they rely on available solar radiation rather than a utility grid for power. However, if you want to ease into the solar-powered life, or don’t have the space (or sunlight) for your own solar panel system, you can remain connected to your town or city’s utility grid; this guarantees that you’ll always have power, even at night when the system is unable to keep up with your home’s energy demands.
If both of those seem to be a bit too much of a commitment, you can always start small. By utilizing solar energy systems to heat your water — or even your pool — rather than your home, you can continue to benefit from its clean energy without worrying about your home going dark.
Let’s head back to the basics: the sun is essentially a natural nuclear reactor, putting out tiny packets of energy called photons that travel to the earth in 8.5 minutes; the number of photons that impacts our planet every hour generates enough solar energy to theoretically satisfy global energy needs for an entire year! Solar panels are designed to harness this power and translate it (through the use of photovoltaic cells) into electricity.
With enough solar installations in the U.S. to power 6.56 million homes, we think Mr. Denver got it right: sunshine almost always makes us high.