Enter the sun, a fusion nuclear reactor safely parked 93 million miles away that each hour bathes the earth in enough free energy to equal all the energy used by man in a year. The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the planet each year is about twice as much as will ever be obtained from all of the Earth’s non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas and mined uranium combined.
You can grab your piece of this free energy bonanza with off-the-shelf hardware to power your home and electric automobile. For about the cost of an in-ground pool or cinema room or speedboat bobbing at the marina, your home and car can become your own power plant and vehicle fueling station.
Solar photovoltaic panels convert sunlight into electricity with no moving parts and they are typically guaranteed for at least 25 years. Electricity from a solar array can be used in the home and any excess can be sold back to the utility company at the same price you pay for it. Your utility provides a credit for excess power you produce that can be applied to months when the meter is spinning in their favor. Lincoln Heritage Public Library’s 2400-square-foot Chrisney branch library, in Spencer County, is completely powered by the sun and it produces about 1800 kilowatt-hours more electricity than it uses each year with its 8.9-kilowatt solar array. They have never paid an electric bill. The all-electric building is heated and cooled using a ground-source heat pump with two vertical wells.
A well-insulated, energy efficient three-bedroom home with ground-source heat pump can be designed in Bloomington to be net-zero-energy with an 8.5-kilowatt solar array with enough extra juice to charge an electric vehicle, like the Nissan Leaf, for 12,000 miles per year.
Solar panels may not be as sexy as that swimming pool, cinema room or speedboat, but the payback on investment is much greater and the peace of mind you will experience for the next 25 years of energy independence will be priceless.