solar

get started with solar thermal

Pair solar energy upgrade with energy efficiency

The national online publication Energy Efficiency Markets ran a story in September 2014 about LEAP’s unique approach to pairing solar and energy efficiency with our Solarize programs!

Although it’s easy to overlook the common sources of energy loss within your home, it’s important to be able to identify and to repair these issues before they continue to waste energy and increase your energy bills. Some of these common issues include air leaks, leaky connections in a duct system, and HVAC systems that are out of date and inefficient. LEAP offers several different solutions to fixed these problems and to improve overall efficiency.

● For Dominion customers, LEAP offers free Home Energy Check-Ups. One of our energy coaches will evaluate the efficiency of your home and install a number of energy efficient products, such as CFL light bulbs, smart power strips, pipe insulation, and door weatherization.

● Home Energy Audits are also available for a more intensive testing and thorough evaluation of your home.

● Last but not least, the Home Performance with Energy Star Program is a way of making your home as efficient as possible before installing solar panels through the Solarize Charlottesville. Energy Star appliances decrease the need to pull energy from the grid, and send larger amounts of energy to the grid to offset the impact of other inefficient homes.

 

Solarize

For those who are interested in and/or are already taking part in the Solarize Charlottesville Program (July 1-Sept. 30, 2014) inquiring with Solarize’s partners may be the best course of action. Sigora Solar and Altenergy are able to manufacture and install residential solar thermal systems. They are both local companies that are committed to providing customers with clean cost-effective energy options.

For Solarize Leesburg (Oct. 1-Nov. 30, 2014), you can contact Solar Odyssey, Green Brilliance or Prospect Solar.

Research 

While LEAP is not currently able to connect interested members with solar thermal system contractors, there are plenty of resources available. For those new to the process of researching product distributors, always keep in mind that you want the most efficient product, at the lowest cost, with the highest quality. It is not always easy to find a company that can give you the perfect balance of all three of these things. Before you begin your search it may be helpful for you to order efficiency, cost, and quality from most to least important.

1. The internet is a great resource to start you search for an ideal solar thermal system.

➢ Start with websites like  greenworldinvestor.com and solarcontact.com

2. Make a point to look for both local and national companies and compare them against each other.

➢ Be sure to note that using a local company is inherently better for the environment.

3. Look at reviews of each companies’ professionalism, installation quality, and unique attributes (ie. financing options) on sites like: angieslist.com, solarreviews.com, and cleanenergyauthority.com

4. After you narrow your list of companies, based on product efficiency, cost, quality, and reviews, start inquiring with them individually to ask about past customer testimonials, set up a site assessment, and get a quote.

➢ If there was any information that you could not find on a company’s website, this is a good time to ask them for that information.

5. Only make your decision after you have gathered all of the necessary information.

➢ If you decide that you like a company’s product before reading the reviews, you may be surprised to find that they showed up late and botched the installation of your solar thermal system.

 

Create your own solar-path diagram

It can be helpful to have an idea of what to expect before having your home assessed for a solar thermal system. A good way to do this is to look at a solar path diagram for your property. This tool is a map that shows the path that the sun takes around your home throughout the year. You can visit suncalc.net and enter the address of your home and a date. To determine where the sun is positioned at a specific time, drag the slider and watch as the sun’s rays change direction from sunrise to sunset.

Important Sun Dates

From here you can determine if your roof is facing the right direction and if any obstructions, tall trees or buildings, would block the sun’s rays at times of day when you would be using a lot of electricity. To further understand how the position of the sun relative to your home changes throughout the year visit this link.

 

Additional Resources

LEAP: Solar Power 101

LEAP: Get Started with Solar

LEAP: Solar Thermal 101

Solarize Charlottesville

Solarize NOVA

http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-heating-cooling-technology

http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-heating-cooling-energy-secure-future

http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-heating-cooling-economics-growth

http://www.b-es.org/sustainability/sustainable-technology-briefing-sheets/solar-thermal-guidance/