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Happy New Year!
Happy New Year from all of us here at Solar San Antonio! We hope you all had a fun and safe holiday season. We are excited for the New Year and new developments in the solar industry. Read this uplifting article about 13 major clean energy breakthroughs of 2013 to help you feel motivated. Here’s to a great year for all of us!
One of our resolutions for 2014 is to post on our blog, The Solar Times. Not only will we provide you with the usual solar coverage, but we will also include posts on other environmental issues to help you stay informed. Leave comments and share our links!
National Women and Solar
A common assumption is that the men of households tend to make the decision to go solar. However, a new study by two women in the solar industry suggests otherwise. This new study found that women tended to seek out information about going solar and were the decision makers of the household. Additionally, the study confirmed findings in other studies that the women of the household are also the ones who pay the bills. This is important information for solar installers because it signals that they may need to slightly change their sales approach to better cater to women. Read the full article about this new study.
Bringing Soft Costs Down
The cost of solar has come down dramatically in recent years. However, there are soft costs keeping the price of going solar relatively high. Soft costs for a solar system, which include labor for the installation, permits, and customer acquisition, now make up more of the total cost of a solar system than before. In the U.S., soft costs are about $1.22 per watt for the average home installation. That compares to just $.33 per watt for the average home installation in Germany. If these costs can come down through innovative ideas and marketing techniques, the price of a solar system will come down as well. To read the rest of this story and to check out an infographic that explains the different soft costs, click here.
The Federal Government, Energy Efficiency, and Renewable Energy
December saw a push for energy efficiency at the federal level. This month, President Barack Obama ordered the federal government to get 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. This is almost triple the amount of energy the federal government currently receives from renewable energy sources. It costs billions of dollars to power all of the federal buildings across the nation. This new initiative means that the government will be saving money while cutting its carbon footprint. Another renewable energy opportunity came from the Department of Agriculture for energy efficiency retrofits in rural areas. The Department of Agriculture will offer $250 million in loans to help rural utilities provide rebates and incentives for energy efficiency improvements. Finally, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Energy expanded their Better Buildings Challenge to include apartments and condos to address energy efficiency. Here is the full story if you want to read more about the end of the year push by the federal government.
Solar Increases Home Resale Values in California
A new study in California has confirmed that solar panels increase a home’s resale value (at least in California). The study, which analyzed data from 2000 to 2009 in California, found homes with solar sold for more than homes without solar panels. The study also found for every 1 kilowatt of solar added to a home, $5,911 was added to the home’s value. To about read more this study, click here.
Ford’s New Solar Car
Ford has announced plans for a solar-powered hybrid car. The car would have a solar system on its roof that will track the sun to maximize the amount of sun that hits the panels. The car will be able to go 21 miles on a single charge. This is an exciting development with electric cars because this car would not need to depend on the grid. The car will be on display at a car show in Las Vegas; after the show, Ford will look into how feasible it would be to produce the car. Here’s the full story about this solar-powered car.
International Solar in the Caribbean
The islands in the Caribbean have notoriously high electricity costs due to the need to import fuels to run generators. The Dominican Republic is no exception. Along with its high electricity prices, it also faces problems with outdated infrastructure and natural disasters. However, the island nation has set a goal of 25 percent of electricity generated from renewable energy sources by 2025. Solar power has great potential on the island and there are already a number of solar companies operating in the Dominican Republic. For more on this story, click here.
The U.S. Beats Germany
Germany has been the global leader in solar panels for many years. While the U.S. is a much larger country with the ability to produce more energy from solar, differing policies between the U.S. and Germany allowed Germany to lead in regard to solar. However, for the first time in over a decade, the U.S. is on track to install more solar than Germany. While the U.S. still lags behind on total installed capacity, we are slowly catching up. Here’s the rest of the report if you want to read more about this exciting story.
- If you have a real Christmas tree in your home, consider recycling it. There are more than 15 drop-off locations in San Antonio, and they are open on the weekends. Here’s more information on tree recycling in San Antonio.
- Many people received new electronic devices this holiday season. If you were one of them and wish to dispose of your old device, think twice before throwing it in the trash. Many electronic devices are recyclable and some places will even give money for your old electronics. A simple internet search will help you find the right place to take your old electronics.
- If you still have wrapping paper in your home from the holidays, think about upcycling it in creative ways! Learn how to make paper beads out of your wrapping paper. Find even more ways to use old wrapping paper here.