If you have ever debated whether you really wanted to have your own home solar energy system, you need to know what the future looks like for those that rely on public power companies. It has to do with the new “smart” thermostats that have hit the markets.
A “Smart” Problem
Some of the new smart thermostats have the capability of communication with the power companies to let them know your energy consumption. While this may appear relatively innocent on the surface, there is an underlying issue that is very troubling. It seems that the technology allows two-way communication with the new thermostats. That means if you are not using your own home solar energy systems, the power companies may have the ability to control how much electricity you can use.
This issue started in California, which traditionally has problems with brownouts and over-worked electrical systems during the heat of the summer. One of the solutions that have been proposed is to allow energy companies to control the internal temperature of some buildings during peak usage times. This will help to reduce the problem of too many air conditioners running full-blast during the middle of the day.
The California Energy Commission has gone so far as to require the installation of these remote control thermostats in homes and buildings. After a public outcry, they have changed the regulations to allow individuals to block the two-way communication, but the technology is already in place. If energy shortages become a problem, the energy commission could reverse their ruling, and again take control of these thermostats.
This is not just a California issue. With increased emphasis on battling climate change the possibility of other states adopting this technology is solar inverter very real possibility. You could find yourself at the control of your state of local energy commission over how you use energy in your home.
Take Back Control
What can you do about that? The simple answer is to become energy self-sufficient. That means tapping into wind energy, or using a home solar energy system. Fortunately, it isn’t very expensive to get started, and the savings on your monthly utility bills will pay of the system over time.
Using home solar energy systems will give you the freedom to use energy in your home the way you want, without paying outrageous rates or giving up you personal privacy in the process. Whether you pay for a system to be installed, or install a solar power system yourself, you have the ability to keep control of what goes on in your home.
Is it Time For Solar Energy to Get Hot?
Solar energy has been around for quite a while and most people don’t think about it much except for the ones who are already into renewable sources of energy. Environmentalists have always loved the idea of solar energy but what has kept it from going more mainstream, being more widely used and looked upon as something someone wants to spend money to install on their property? There have been improvements in the technology of solar energy, but has there been enough? Isn’t the war on terror and the desire to be independent of foreign energy sources enough to persuade people to use solar energy? At what point will solar energy become the great and never ending source of energy many of envisioned many years ago?
Well, I, for one, think that the time has just about come for solar energy to really take off because of one reason: it will be economically the right and smart thing to do.
Last year I was driving to Las Vegas from San Jose and when I was just about three quarters of the way to my destination I passed a sign that said something about a “solar farm.” I glanced over and saw row upon row of solar panels sitting in the middle of the dessert. This is about the only farm that could survive in the dessert I thought to myself. Then I thought ” Wow. Why can’t I do that?” In a smaller fashion of course because of my limited resources. But I thought why not rent some land and buy some of these panels and start my own little farm? It made sense and actually it still makes sense to me.
I went home later and looked into the solar energy industry. I wanted to see if this was possible now and I thought if these people put all those panels out in the dessert and sold the energy to others why can’t a small businessman?
Well, what I found out is that it isn’t quite possible to do just yet. Why? Because the cost of the panels, property, labor etc.. wasn’t low enough to make a profit for what you can sell the energy for. The solar farm was more than likely subsidized by the government. So I looked into the possibility of using them on homes. This thought has been around for decades and you do see the panels on more homes than you used to so I was wondering if this was possible now. I found out that it just takes too long for the average consumer to get their investment back to consider putting solar panels on their homes.
The average time for a homeowner to get the money back on their investment is anywhere from 12 years to 20 years. For this industry to take off that figure I believe will have to go down to around 5 to 7. Not that far really. It could actually go below that.
Three things have to happen for the solar energy promise to become a reality and for homeowners and entrepreneurs to decide in large numbers to use solar panels to create electricity:
- The price of the panels will have to decrease.
- The panels will have to improve and produce more energy.
- The cost of energy will have to increase.
Actually just one of these factors can happen to a great degree and the other two stay constant and the point will be reached where the solar energy industry will explode. But more than likely, all three will come closer together and at some point people will decide to start buying the panels in record numbers and we will see this way of creating energy from a clean and renewable source be common place.
Here is why I think the time is very near for this explosion to happen.
- There is a bill in the state legislature in California now that will spend $billions on rebates for solar energy. The governor wants to show that he is in the front of this movement and wants to be aggressive. Some don’t like the way the bill is written, but there is a good chance it will pass.
- The panels are becoming more and more efficient at producing more energy.
- The price may go down dramatically if contracts with China to produce the panels are put into place. Normally I don’t like our jobs going oversees to people who only get fractions of what the US worker makes but in this instance it will also create many jobs here to install the panels, sell them, warehouse them etc… Plus this is something the country needs I feel. Clean, renewable energy that makes us less reliable on foreign oil and gases.