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  • Get unplugged and stay active to save energy and improve health and well-being!
  • Try daylighting your home by turning off the lights and opening the blinds.
  • Try preparing “energy-free” meals and avoid using appliances when not necessary.
  • Utilize power strips and smart power strips to reduce the “vampire energy” phenomenon.
  • Hang dry clothing on a clothesline and wash clothes in cold water to save energy doing laundry.
  • When shopping for new appliances check “Energy Guide” labels and look for “Energy Star” rated products.
  • Save on energy bills by getting rebates back from DTE Energy and Consumers Energy.

 

The Great Solar Debate - Is Solar Power Unreliable



A common argument against solar power is that it’s only designed for areas where the sun shines often, such as the American Southwest, but it’s unreliable in other places. This is an understandable concern, but one that can be assuaged with a bit of helpful information.

The Great Solar Debate
By Gabriel Toth
 
A common argument against solar power is that it’s only designed for areas where the sun shines often, such as the American Southwest, but it’s unreliable in other places. This is an understandable concern, but one that can be assuaged with a bit of helpful information.
 
Solar panels, though certainly most efficient when receiving direct sunlight, are also able to generate electricity in overcast and precipitous conditions. This is because solar panels harness visible and infrared light, both of which are persistent on sunny and rainy days.
 
Germany is one of the world leaders in solar energy use (with 7.5% of their net electricity consumption supplied by solar power) while experiencing relatively overcast weather. The United Kingdom, not known for sunshine, is also able to generate more solar energy over a six-month period than its coal counterparts. Indeed, solar power is not a luxury to be enjoyed only by those in hot, sunny areas, but a feasible energy option for a variety of climates.
 
A study found that some of the world’s coldest regions are the ones best suited for solar panel use. This is the true because solar panels must be kept cool to work at their most efficient level. Similar to cold weather, precipitation can also benefit solar production because rain may wash away dirt particles that keep the panels from operating efficiently. So this proves that solar panels are able to operate in virtually any type of weather.
 
What about at night? The sun isn’t shining then, so how is solar energy generated?  If a solar energy user has a net metering program in place through the utility provider, then that user can offset costs incurred from using energy at times when the sun isn’t shining, like during the night. If the solar panels generate more electricity than the house uses in total, as is often the case, then the customer receives a credit from the utility provider, allowing solar users to save on their energy bills.
 
Weather actually does not have a tremendous impact on the potential for solar panels to generate electricity. As long as the sun shines occasionally, solar power can be an appropriate energy option.
 
In our next debate, we will address issues involving the cost of solar power.
 

 

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