Sustainable Homes Blog Series: The Benefits of Solar Panels for Homeowners

By Kris Lindahl from Blaine, MN

The Benefits of Solar Panels for Homeowners

Homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on utilities should consider solar power. Solar power isn't only for commercial businesses or federal properties. Today, residential homeowners can enjoy the benefits of solar power as well.

Solar Power for Homeowners

Solar power for residential homes typically comes from panels often installed upon the roof of the house. However, it's also possible to have a free-standing solar panel unit installed in a backyard if that is preferred by the homeowner. The panels are constructed from a thin silicon material and are divided into individual photovoltaic cells. It's the photovoltaic cells that work as semi-conductors, using natural sunlight to create electricity for the home.

While homes with south-slanting roofs are often seen as the ideal for harnessing the sun's energy, homes with roofs facing slightly to the east or to the west can still work efficiently. A qualified, professional assessment from a solar power company is needed to determine if your home can be fitted with panels, but many homeowners are surprised to see just how effective they can be on theirs.

Additional things to know when thinking about going solar at home include:

• Solar panels can be installed on flat roofs
• Different size panels are available depending on the roof/home size
• A home can have solar panels and still be connected to the local power grid
• Remote homes are candidates for solar panels, but may require a more complicated set-up

Environmental Impact of Solar Power

The direct electrical current generated through residential solar panels is clean energy, eco-friendly, and has the potential to save the homeowner money on power bills. More and more homeowners are looking to bring their homes into the future due to the environmental implications of lowering ones carbon footprint.

To be sure, due to its combined economic and environmental impact, photovoltaic technology has become one of the most popular forms of renewable energy technology for the average homeowner.

Solar power is a great value for homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint and help benefit the environment in the long term. As a renewable resource, it's a logical choice for any homeowner wishing to move towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.

Solar Power to Save Money

The cost of solar panel equipment and installation will vary by company and will depend on the size of your home and its power needs. Fortunately, homeowners may take advantage of various credits available from the federal government or their city as well as other tax exemptions and rebates.

The average solar panel has the potential to produce so much more energy every year compared to panels produced back in the day. This averages to a range of about 20 kW to 25 kW hours daily. In general, homes using solar panels will use less energy from their local power grid which can save on utility bills. It's important to note that homeowners are responsible for obtaining authorization from their local electrical supplier if connecting their solar photovoltaic cells to the grid.

Solar power for homeowners does offer many benefits and with technology continually advancing, it's an option that can't be dismissed.

2017 Fall Electronics Recycling Drives

We concluded this weekend with another successful series of electronics recycling drives! Through our partnership with Goodwill, we managed to help 78 Madison residents recycle over 3,000 pounds of electronics, while raising $1,200+ for our ongoing solar panel initiative at Madison West High School. Over 20 West Green Club members braved rain and 40 degree weather to volunteer during the event. Thanks to all attendees, volunteers, and sponsors who helped make this event a huge success!

Outreach: Electronic-Waste Recycling

West Green Club held its biannual electronic-waste recycling drive on Earth Day (April 22, 2017), offering Madison residents the opportunity to drop off computers and computer-related equipment and contribute to West Green Club's ongoing sustainability projects.

At the event, West Green Club distributed City of Madison Recyclopedias. The City of Madison Recycling Division provided West Green Club with 200 Recyclopedias to distribute, outlining the procedures for how Madison residents could recycle electronics and other common household items. The electronic version to the Recyclopedia can be found here.

Additionally, West Green Club distributed an infographic outlining electronic-waste recycling in Wisconsin from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in conjunction with the E-Cycle Wisconsin program. Wisconsin's electronics recycling law mandates that certain electronics must not be placed in the trash and requires some electronics manufacturers to allocate funds for responsible recycling. The infographic contained several interesting statistics on electronic-waste recycling: Americans generate enough e-waste annually to fill 160,000 garbage trucks, recycling 1 million laptops saves enough energy required to power 3657 homes in the United States for a year, and that 58% of people who do not recycle electronics did not know where or how to do so. A link to the infographic can be found here.

In all, the event was a great opportunity to inform residents about the scope and magnitude of the issue of electronic-waste recycling in Wisconsin and nationally. If you have any other questions about recycling electronics, please let us know at