When people suggest that using solar energy is not feasible, I just laugh. Let’s try turning the sun off for a week and see how we did without it.
Solar works! No, in many places, including Vermont, it can’t work every day (and night!) year round, but when the sun shines it works brilliantly, no pun intended.
Capturing and storing solar does require an investment. This solar collector cost $38 over 15 years ago. It continues to work with no input of fossil fuel and has saved us tens of thousands of kilowatt-hours of electrical energy over that time. Plus the laundry smells great (without any of those little stinky things).
Our solar hot water heater panels are only two years old and cost more ($7000) but they have already offset more than $1200 of fuel oil—not a bad rate of return! This system is brilliant in that it works all on its own with almost zero thought or action on my part!
Some might scoff “solar is great but what about cloudy days…?!” Yes, there are days when a shower is hot and other days when it is warm, days when we do hot water laundry and others when we do cold, but if the sun doesn’t shine for several days, I can also resort to my fossil fuel backup. If I had slightly better orientation to the sun, I’d have far more heat than I could ever use.
After a partly sunny day yesterday, we still have a 40-gallon tank of hot water this morning with temperatures like this. Today we will see even more sunshine.
An added bonus of our system, which is wall-mounted, is the summer shading it provides for our living room, an area that used to consistently overheat on a sunny summer day.
One issue we are hearing more about in Vermont (and elsewhere) lately is the “unsightliness” of solar. I agree there can be inappropriately sighted systems or arrays and some guidelines are useful, One might be: “what about having it in your own back yard?” And if not solar, what about a coal-fired power plant (with open pit mine) or a nuclear station (with 100,000 year waste disposal on the side) or… ?!
The bottom line is SOLAR WORKS! Not 100% and not by itself but there, right in front of us, is far more power than we could ever hope to have just waiting for us to figure out how to make it work.
Sorry if this post today is a bit “preachy” but all that hot water just got me steamed up!
Hear, hear! You keep right on talking from your solar soapbox 🙂
I think it’s a great post! Good points. Simple, but I’m not sure I would’ve thought to compare the “ugliness” of solar panels to the ugliness of what it replaces. So often it’s all about dollar for dollar cost.