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Frequently Asked Questions - Solar Energy
Last Updated on:  06/25/2015 06:31 AM

How does one convert therms to cubic feet of natural gas? -- 1 therm = 100,000 BTU. The average heat value of natural gas is 1000 BTU per cubic foot. A BTU (British Thermal Unit) is enough heat to heat one pound of water one degree (F).
Will additional attic vents cut winter heating bills? -- Attic ventilation will not necessarily decrease heating bills.  But additional venting may be a good idea.  Attic ventilation helps keep the attic free of moisture that leaks in with warm air from the living area of homes in the winter.  It will reduce the likelihood of ice dams by keeping the roof deck cooler.  It will definitely keep the attic and the house cooler in the summer. It is good to put the sun to work.  A small solar power collector can drive what's needed to increase the air flow during the day and reduce it at night.
What maintenance is required? -- Most solar thermal systems need valves replaced every 3-5 years and storage tanks replaced every 10 years. Collector life is usually in excess of 15 years. PV panel life is typically 25 years. All this assumes "good" water quality is used in your system, and it was properly installed.  The good news is that solar electric (PV) systems usually just need to be periodically wash off the solar panels. Batteries may need water topping off.
What's the quickest to keep my house cooler in the Summer? -- Reduce the amount of sun hitting the house and shining in the windows.  There are all kinds of inexpensive exterior awnings and shades you can add to block the sun from getting through the windows.  Interior drapes don't help the heat problem.  The canvas awnings you can fold back against the house in the Winter and during storms are the best option.
How do you calculate estimated system cost? -- Unfortunately installation costs vary considerably. It is best that contact a Solar Professional in your area who can assess your specific needs and give you a competitive quote.
How do you calculate the payback time? -- Years to Breakeven = (Net cost - property value increase) / ("Pre-tax" average annual utility savings) where Pre-tax Utility savings = Average annual utility savings / (1 - 40%) and Net Cost to you is "YOUR ESTIMATED NET COST" minus (-) the expected increase in property value.
NEW   Do It Yourself Wind Turbine & Solar Panel Installation:  The following is the personal experience of Shane with a complete DO-IT-YOURSELF approach to installing a wind turbine and solar panels  to produce power for my home .

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