EarthTalk: Home Solar 101


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Dear EarthTalk: I'm finally ready to join the 21st century and commit to putting solar panels on my roof. Where do I start? —Henry Hughes, Washington, DC

Good things may in fact come to those who wait. There’s never been a better time to go solar, given how much prices for panels have come down while efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity—even in less-than-sunny locales—has risen dramatically. Of course, you can’t just snap your fingers and get panels on your roof. First you have to navigate a confusing maze of regulations, incentives and installers before anyone even looks your roof over for feasibility.

The first place to start is to find out which federal, state and local incentives may be available in your neck of the woods for going solar. Check out the free online Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), a comprehensive information resource that’s updated by North Carolina State researchers working off a U.S. Department of Energy grant.

How does solar work? Is my home suitable for solar panels? Will I save money by going solar? Can I get financing? How will solar impact my home’s resale value? If you’re looking for answers to questions like these, the Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar has you covered.

Trying to figure out if it's better to lease or buy your solar panels? You’re not alone, and it's hard to do the math given the apples/oranges scenario. Luckily, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) spells it all out clearly—not just whether to lease or buy but also how to get multiple bids to save money and which questions to ask before entering into an agreement with an installer—in its recently updated Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power.

Given how new the solar industry is, it's often hard to know whether a given installer is going to be reputable, let alone be able to survive the next economic downturn. Angie's List offers several pearls of wisdom—how the cheapest bid may not be the best deal, why extended warranties may not be worthwhile, how to save yourself from death by paperwork—in a recent article on the topic.

When you’re finally ready to find an installer, check out the “Find a Certified Professional” page on the website of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), a trade group that offers the “gold standard” in professional certification and company accreditation programs to renewable energy professionals.

If you’re a quote-comparing type, you'll also want to check out Energy Sage, a website that lets you compare quotes from solar installers in your area. This free service is maintained by the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) SunShot Initiative, a national effort to support solar energy adoption by making solar energy affordable for all Americans.

While you can’t go wrong with a highly touted local installer, there are also benefits to choosing one of a handful of companies leasing or selling solar panels on a larger scale across the country and beyond. SolarCity/Tesla, Vivint, Sunrun, Sunnova and SunPower are a few of the leaders, each offering solar installs in California and several other states including New Jersey, Massachusetts, Arizona and Hawaii.

CONTACTS: DSIRE, www.dsireusa.org; NABCEP, www.nabcep.org/certified-installer-locator; Energy Sage, www.energysage.com; Angie’s List, www.angieslist.com/articles/how-hire-solar-panel-installer.htm; SEIA, www.seia.org; DoE, energy.gov/eere/sunshot/homeowner-s-guide-going-solar.

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of the nonprofit Earth Action Network. To donate, visit www.earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

See also:
Better-Looking Rooftop Solar Panels
Women Take Control Of Solar Revolution

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Daily Astrology

December 13, 2018

Keep a notepad bedside. A visionary idea could surface overnight. Shortly after sunrise the Moon arrives in mystical Pisces. Emotional and psychic sensitivities increase but be on the lookout for incorrect assumptions as well as faulty telepathic…
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December 2018

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Join us the second Tuesday evening of the month for a Reiki Share in the Usui Reiki system of natural healing. We are a gathering of Reiki practitioners who share experiences, practice...

Cost: Free

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
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Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
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The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
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Contact Name: Brad Fanger

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Please join us at our monthly meetings, second Wednesday each month September - June in Westboro, MA. A welcoming community working for the greater health and wellbeing of all. Contact...

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman St
#108B
Westborough, MA
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Journaling can be a part of your inner work and is, in fact, on the tree of contemplative practices.  Whether you are a meditator or keep a journal or neither of the above, all are welcome to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waltham Public Library
735 Main Street
Waltham, MA  02451
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Sponsor: Louise Goldstein
Telephone: 617-710-6145
Contact Name: Waltham Public Library
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Sponsored by the Canton Spiritualist Church. Held at the Blue Hills, Canton, MA. Psychics, mediums, readings for a fee. Free healings.

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Blue Hills
Canton, MA


Sponsor: Canton Spiritualist Church
Telephone: (617) 469-2568

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Discover the power of body tapping and nature based solutions that will help you: More effectively manage and ease chronic pain issues. Clear stuck energy with body tapping. Learn the basic...

Cost: $49

Where:
Clearpoint Center
259 East Street
Stafford Springs, CT  06076
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Sponsor: Clearpoint Center
Telephone: 860-684-3994
Contact Name: Steve Munn
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With Susie Masters We warmly invite you to join us for The Winter Solstice Workshop. Celebrate the shortest day while giving yourself the space to feel and experience the now. During this...

Cost: $45

Where:
State of Grace Yoga and Wellness Center
104 East. Hartford Ave.
Uxbridge, MA  01569
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Telephone: 508-278-2818
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All are invited to a special barefoot, free style dance and live music event on December 15th from 7:30pm–10pm in Greenfield, Massachusetts. We will be having a special freestyle, barefoot...

Cost: $5-$10

Where:
The Episcopal Church of St. James & Andrew
71 Federal St.
Greenfield, MA  01301
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Sponsor: Dance Spree
Telephone: (413)658-7011 (no texting please)
Contact Name: Jasper Lapienski
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Tired of missing opportunities that could further your life, your education, even your work? Tired of missing threats that continue to hold back your life, your education, even your work? Sit down...

Cost: $40

Where:
Caffe Nero
368 Congress St
Boston, MA  02210
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Contact Name: Soni
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