What Happens When You Install Solar Panels?: The Impact of Living Sustainably

Support for renewable energy continues to grow. More homeowners want to find ways to live sustainably. Solar panels provide an alternative energy source that is better for the environment and can provide financial savings over the years.

Clean Edge Inc. commissioned research firm Zogby Analytics to conduct a national survey. Clean Edge assists corporations in the “transition to a clean energy economy.” They polled 1,418 randomly selected U.S. homeowners to better understand their attitudes toward a variety of clean energy technologies, including solar.

Approximately 88% of those surveyed viewed renewable energy as essential to America’s future. And 69% stated that they want to have more options when it comes to supplying energy to their homes. Of those, 62% said that they would consider installing a residential solar power system.

The Clean Edge survey also revealed that many homeowners still believe the myth that solar panels are prohibitively expensive. In reality, the cost is about 100 times lower than it was back in the late 70s. The price has dropped significantly, even in the last decade. If you received a quote in 2008, then chances are it is 80% higher than what you can find today. Quotes from 2012 are still 20% more than what you can buy in 2019.

With costs at all-time lows, now is an excellent time to learn more about the environmental benefits of installing solar panels. What happens when you set up and start using a system in your home?

  • You Stop Contributing to Air Pollution

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 28% of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by electricity production. Around 68% of electricity produced across the country is generated by burning fossil fuels like natural gas and coal.

When you install solar panels, you are reducing or stopping your reliance on fossil fuel-produced power. Even if you aren’t going 100% solar, you can still lower your impact by decreasing your reliance on non-renewable energy sources. Every step towards clean living will benefit the environment.

It’s important to take these steps now rather than later. The EPA reported that gross greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. have increased by about 2% since 1990.

  • You Reduce Annual Hazardous Waste Production

The United Nations Environmental Program reported that over 400 million tons of hazardous waste are produced annually. Not all of that is disposed of properly. In Canada, approximately 30% of hazardous waste producers failed to adhere to correct disposal procedures.

Nuclear fission products are the most concerning. This type of waste continues to be radioactive for thousands of years. If not handled correctly, it can be harmful to humans and the environment across many lifetimes. There are 60 commercial nuclear power plants that house 98 nuclear reactors in 30 U.S. states.

Nuclear waste must be securely stored. Even when it is in the right place, there can be serious concerns. An incident occurred in 2014 when a drum of radioactive waste blew up inside the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a deep geological repository in New Mexico. A year-long investigation found that the explosion was caused by the wrong brand of cat litter that was used to absorb liquid nuclear waste.

The cleanup effort cost nearly $2 million. It was one of the most expensive nuclear accidents in U.S. history, and it put the environment at risk.

On March 28th, 1979, the infamous Three Mile Island accident occurred. This nuclear generating station in Pennsylvania experienced a partial meltdown and radiation leak. It was rated a 5 on the 7-point International Nuclear Event Scale. The rating indicates that the accident occurred with wider consequences.

Eric Epstein with the Three Mile Island Alert watchdog group explained that “This is an inter-generational problem for people who have yet to be born, and that’s not fair.” He went on to state that “I think as adults we have to come to grips with the fact that we’ve created a hazardous waste site and we’ll have to guard it – isolate it – for hundreds, if not thousands of years.”

Solar power gives homeowners a way to reduce nuclear waste production through alternative energy. It won’t change what happened in the past, but it can protect the future from making the same mistakes.

  • You Decrease Your Consumption of Finite Resources

We have developed an unhealthy dependence on resources that will eventually run out. Fossil fuels are non-renewable. We may be able to power our homes and vehicles with it now, but eventually, it will end. The greater our dependence becomes, the worse off we will be when that happens.

Solar energy gives us a reliable alternative. The sun is the most powerful source of energy we can access. Our consumption of it doesn’t affect its ability to generate more power. Our life-sustaining ball of gas produces 173,000 terawatts of solar energy per second. We always know where to find it. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, may become more difficult to find and extract as they begin to dwindle through constant consumption.

The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine explained that sunlight contains a large amount of energy. On an average clear day, one square meter of solar radiation travels to earth with enough power to run a desktop computer. Solar panels can be used to harness that energy. It’s safe for the environment and sustainable.

  • You Help Fight Against Climate Change

Solar energy can have a positive impact on the local environment and the world as a whole. Greenhouse gas production has increased over the past decades. The more we advance technologically, the greater the demand we put on our energy sources. Higher production means higher output of waste products like carbon dioxide. The electrical power industry ranks among the top producers of greenhouse gases in the U.S.

NASA reported that human activity since the mid-20th century is likely the cause of the current unprecedented warming trend. Our average surface temperature has increased by about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century. The Earth’s oceans absorb much of the heat, causing their temperatures to increase more than .4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 50 years. Antarctic ice sheets are shrinking, glaciers are retreating, and sea levels are rising.

The world has also experienced record-breaking weather. Abnormal heat waves, torrential downpours, flooding, hurricane activity, winter storms, and other weather events have increased in frequency and intensity in recent years – claiming homes and lives. Switching to solar power will reduce humanity’s impact on the planet and the changes that are causing dangerous and extreme weather events.

Prepare Your Home for Long-Term Sustainability

Now is the time to take action and reduce our impact on the environment. Solar panels are a big first step. They are more affordable than they ever were before and can last a long time. The average solar panel can generate power at optimum levels for between 25 and 30 years. It’s a smart long-term investment for your home and the planet. Contact us today to learn more about using sustainable energy to power your home.