The following is from the environmental themed advice column EarthTalk®, by the Editors of the non-profit publication E/The Environmental Magazine, that well be regularly featuring here on CLs Green Community.
Dear EarthTalk: Is it now feasible to provide all of a homes energy needsincluding air conditioningwith solar power alone? If so, why hasnt solar caught on more, particularly in U.S. Sun Belt states from southern California east to Florida? — Tim Douglas, Burlington, VT
It has been possible for years if not decades to provide all of a homes energy needs with solar power. The technology is here and is only getting more efficient and less obtrusive every day. The only real stumbling block is cost: Solar systems capable of meeting all of an average U.S. homes energy needs start at around $25,000. Given how inexpensive the grid-based power we now get all across the country remainsand, bear in mind that many utilities are working more and more renewable energy sources, like wind power, into their mixgoing solar alone just doesnt pencil out economically for most people.
Of course, many of us are starting to think beyond our individual bottom lines when it comes to energy usage as global warming nips at our heels. The federal and many state governments feel likewise and have set up generous rebates and incentives to encourage homeowners (and businesses) to embrace alternative renewable energy sources (including solar but also, wind, geothermal, biomass and even tidal power, among other choices). The federal government offers up a 30 percent personal tax credit (with no ceiling) on the cost of photovoltaic or other solar installations. To find a list of whats available from states, check out the free listings at the website of the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE).