Georgia Magazine - July 2012 - (Page 14)

Georgia’s energy outlook BY ALAN SHEDD, DIRECTOR OF RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL ENERGY PROGRAMS, TOUCHSTONE ENERGY Third in a series Renewable energy in your home I f you read last month’s article in this series, you’re familiar with the “why” and “how” of residential energy efficiency—steps every homeowner should take before investing in renewable energy technology at home. Now, with ducts sealed, ENERGY STAR appliances installed and windows caulked, you’re ready to take the next step. Read on to learn three ways you can leverage Georgia’s most abundant renewable energy source—solar energy—to help power your home. Passive solar energy The sun is waiting for you to take advantage of it. Now you just need to make appropriate adjustments in your home. • During winter months, open the shades of south-facing windows to let the sun help heat your home. In the summer, shade south-, east- and west-facing windows with overhangs, plants or shrubs to cut down on air-conditioning costs. • Add a greenhouse or sunspace to the south side of your home to provide supplemental heat, a sunny spot to sit in winter or a place to grow plants. Passive solar designs for such spaces absorb heat on sunny days, then release it to the home at night. • Consider adding more windows to your home to make better use of the sun. Sunspaces—especially those with skylights or a transparent roof— should be sealed off and vented to the outdoors. Solar water heating Warning: Hot showers lead to higher energy costs! Since water heating is the second-largest energy user in a home after heating and cooling, installing a solar water-heating system can be a wise investment. 14 Most systems consist of a storage tank, solar collectors, pipes, a pump and controls. The solar collectors—mounted in a sunny, south-facing location—have a metal absorber plate and insulated box with glass cover, which gets hot when the sun shines. Fluid is pumped through the collector, picks up the heat Solar panels being installed on a roof and stores it in a tank. Water warmed by the sun and stored nating current used by most housein the tank supplies your existing hold appliances. If you’re an electric cooperative water heater. In sunny weather, the member, contact your co-op when sun provides free hot water; during cloudy days or higher hot water use, installing solar panels, or other custhe conventional water heater helps tomer-owned electricity generation, to help ensure safe installations and out. Solar water-heating systems vary learn about net-metering options. widely in size and cost. A system This metering technology tracks how suitable for a family of four could much electricity your PV system supcost between $4,000 and $8,000 to plies to your home. If the system purchase and install. You may be produces more energy than your able to receive rebates or tax cred- home needs, the excess can be fed to its to help defray the cost. Shop for the utility’s power lines. Learn about a system that is certified OG-300 by your co-op’s local policies for interthe Solar Rating and Certification connecting your PV system and their Corp. (SRCC), and make sure the net-metering requirements and any installing contractor has certification credit you might receive for your exfrom North American Board of Certi- cess electricity. PV systems are expensive, costfied Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). ing up to $40,000, but tax credits, rebates and other incentives can help. Photovoltaic (PV) systems If you’re ready to make an in- The system you purchase and installer vestment that could have an even you hire should be certified by the more significant payoff, consider a NABCEP. Your co-op can help with rephotovoltaic (PV) system. These syssources and expertise. Contact them tems convert sunlight into electricity and link that electricity to your about their net-metering program and cooperative’s power lines, help pow- to ask questions about passive solar er your home and assist in reducing design, installing a PV or solar wateryour electric bill. Typically installed heating system. A Georgia Tech graduate, Alan on rooftops, PV panels contain semiShedd is the director of residential conductor material that generates electricity when the sun shines. Di- and commercial energy programs for rect-current electricity produced by Touchstone Energy, based in Arlingthe panels is then converted to alter- ton, Va. More online at GEORGIA MAGAZINE

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - July 2012

Georgia Magazine - July 2012
Liberty Notes
Picture This?
Georgia News
Calendar of Events
Georgia’s Energy Outlook
Unveiling a Healthier Georgia
A Soldier’s Wish
Around Georgia
My Georgia
Georgia Gardens
Georgia Cooks

Georgia Magazine - July 2012