5 Step Program for Solar Energy

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Tomorrow I'm going to the Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable meeting on the topic of 'Georgia's Solar Future,' which got me to thinking about my friend and fellow HERS rater class instructor Mike Barcik's 5 step program for solar energy. Here it is:

  1. Energy efficiency. Before you install any type of solar thermal (e.g., solar water heating) or solar electric (e.g., photovoltaics), make sure that the building you're installing it on is as efficient as possible. That's because the cost per kilowatt-hour or Btu saved is a lot less than the cost of generating new kilowatt-hours or Btus. Spray foam, cellulose insulation, and compact fluorescent light bulbs are a lot cheaper than solar panels.
  2. Energy efficiency. If you install solar first, you're spending extra to pay for the energy that's being wasted.
  3. Energy efficiency. See #1 and #2.
  4. Solar thermal. It's easier and cheaper to turn solar energy into useable heat than to turn it into electricity.
  5. Solar electric. Once you've done the above steps, you can start thinking about photovoltaics. Now the electricity you generate will actually be put to good use.

So there you have it. Save as much energy as you can by increasing your home energy efficiency and then go solar.


John Nicholas

How about some more info on #4? I would be interested personally and as a HERS Rater.