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 14, 2019

Early risers awaken with the Cancer Moon gamely opposing Saturn and Pluto. Do what you must. Be observant of boundaries. For unaware souls, projecting subconscious worries and fears on partners can be tempting. Criticizing or pushing others too hard can…
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Calendar

December 2019

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
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Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
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A beautiful collection of messages from Jeshua Ben Joseph (Jesus) that will transform your life, as it did his. Coming together to study these teachings, to ponder, to savor, to deepen our...

Cost: $25 per class

Where:
Heart and Soul Holistic Healing Center
130 Massapoag Avenue
Sharon, MA  02067
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Sponsor: Heart and Soul Holistic
Telephone: 781-258-9942
Contact Name: Barbara Ann Strassman
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2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
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What is a vigorous yoga practice, and who can benefit from it? With Marissa McAleer and Julie Rost This workshop will explore a more physical practice of yoga and how it can be used to...

Cost: $45

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
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Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
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The Wellness Roundtable Holistic Practitioners Network creates an environment for wellness practitioners to inspire, educate and support one another, while building community and encouraging...

Cost: $20 (Drop-ins are welcome)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman St
#108B
Westborough, MA
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Sponsor: 01581
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
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How would it feel to have direct education on changing your feelings so you do start to ask for what you truly want? Each month, come and practice hands-on skills to get into the habit of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Awaken Holistic Counseling Services
2 Liberty St., Unit 2L
Newburyport, MA  01950
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Sponsor: Awaken Holistic Counseling Services, LLC
Telephone: 978-255-7893
Contact Name: Kerri Morrison
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The nights of December fall dark and early. Homes are filled with warm firelight and flickering candle glow. As the year draws to a close, pause under the peaceful light of December’s Full...

Cost: $10–15 suggested donation

Where:
A Touch of Magick
195 S Main Street
Uxbridge, MA
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Telephone: (508) 779-7386
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Sound baths provide an opportunity to relax and journey into a healing, meditative and rejuvenating state. There is nothing you need to do, know or believe. Join us for a powerful, yet casual...

Cost: $25

Where:
Moth & Moon Studio
173 South River Rd
Suite #4
Bedford, NH  03110
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Sponsor: Jeffrey Charles Warren
Contact Name: Jeffrey Warren
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Multi-skilled, and varied holistic practitioner group in Lincoln Area / Metro-West Boston welcomes new practitioner-members. Open invitation to any local practitioner, teacher, researcher,...

Cost: Free, or $5-$15

Where:
Member-homes/offices
Lincoln, MA  01773-4107


Sponsor: Lincoln Area Wellness Collaborative
Telephone: 781-738-1920
Contact Name: Jai Kaur

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This is a class that will teach you how to make your own wire-wrapped gemstone pendant! Don’t be discouraged—it is simpler than you think, and you’ll have great fun in crafting...

Cost: $40 per person or $35 more than one, includes supplies

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers — Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd, Unit A
Salem, NH  03079
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Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
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Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, classes bring you through poses...

Cost: 5/$50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
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Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
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