It’s always the same question once Florida summers roll around and the energy bills come in: How can I lower my energy costs?
But no home is the same, and the options available for some homeowners may not be ideal or even possible for others, notes Todd West, a co-owner of Green Energy Shield.
Green Energy Shield is a licensed energy adviser based in Winter Garden that conducts energy audits to analyze the source of chronically high energy bills and recommend possible solutions. Because no home is built the same, West emphasizes the need to first evaluate how homeowners can quickly and economically decrease their energy bills before forking over thousands of dollars to invest in solar panels.
“Our job as energy advisers is to make homes more efficient before people go solar because solar is a big-ticket item,” West said. “However … if you attack your other issues by caulking your windows, sealing your doors, maybe doing some window tints or updating your attic insulation, it will immediately lower your usage and power bill. Therefore, when you’re ready to go solar, you won’t have to get as big of a solar system.”
West said the return on investing in solar-energy systems usually takes seven to 10 years, including the 30% federal tax credit. Less-expensive options West encourages include spray-foam insulation, solar water heaters, solar pool heaters, radiant barriers, LLumar window films, solar generators, solar attic fans and solar panels.
When it comes to solar panels, West recommends not getting a system if homeowners are planning to move within two or three years, unless they plan to increase the value of their home. In other situations, solar panels are simply not a feasible option due to the structural layout of a home’s roof because it’s facing north.
“Sometimes we have homeowners who are intrigued and want to (invest in solar panels), but then we discover they’re either not going to be in their home long term or their home isn’t well-situated for solar panels,” West said. “I mean, we could do solar gardens and put it in the yard, but some homes don’t even have space to do that.”
Although West does not discount the advantages of investing in a solar panel system, he strongly encourages homeowners to exercise caution and first consider if they can lower their energy bills in another manner.
“We encourage homeowners to take the time to do their homework and make a well-informed and educated decision, because it’s a big-ticket item,” he said.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected].