Renewable energy is a fast-growing industry that more and more people are happy to take part in. As of today, thousands of Texans have switched to the sun. And it makes sense why. It's great for the environment, and with climate change becoming more of an issue, it just makes sense to hop on the green energy train.
What is Solar Energy?
As the name implies, solar energy, or solar power, comes from the sun. Like all stars, our sun is undergoing constant nuclear fusion in its core. This type of reaction sets off energy in the form of light and heat that we experience on Earth. Also known as solar radiation, the energy coming from the sun is incredibly potent; enough of it hits the Earth's surface in a single hour to fulfill the entire planet's power needs for a whole year!
Instead of letting all that energy go to waste, engineers are finding efficient ways to harness it for our own use. Both heat and light energy can create electricity, but capturing light is the most efficient and most common. Solar panels use photovoltaic cells to turn light particles, called photons, into electricity for home use. When the photons are released from the sun and land on the panel's semiconductor material, electrons are knocked loose and generate a current. With proper wiring, this electricity is diverted to the home or other locations.
Advantages of Solar Energy
Like other types of renewable energy, such as wind and hydro, solar energy comes with many advantages that make it a great choice.
It Gives You More Control Over Your Electricity
If you've worked with a traditional electric company, you're probably familiar with changing rates and peak hours that can lead to unexpected monthly charges and high energy bills. Installing solar panels at your home can help you avoid these unpleasant surprises by providing a buffer to peak energy rates. Even if you don't rely entirely on solar energy to power your whole house, using solar panels as a backup gives you the freedom to use electricity when you want it.
It's Clean and Renewable
Using solar power means you're choosing a clean and renewable energy source that you can be proud of. Non-renewable sources like oil, fossil fuels and coal aren't going to be around forever – that's why they're non-renewable. In fact, it's estimated that the world's oil reserves are only going to last another 47 years before they've all been used up. On the other hand, the sun is expected to stick around for the next six billion years or so. Plus, it's clean – that means no dangerous greenhouse gas emissions that could pollute the earth's air and water supplies.
It Can Reduce Monthly Bills
Switching to solar energy to reduce your monthly energy bills is one of the top advantages of solar energy. If you have your own solar panel system installed at your home, you’ll generate electricity for the house directly.
But if installing solar panels isn’t on your to-do list, we’ve still got ways for you to switch to the sun. We use Texas-based solar farms to feed clean energy into the grid. When you sign up for one of our Texas Shine Plans, you’ll be going green and harnessing solar energy—panel-free.
It Qualifies You for Tax Credits
Because making the switch to renewable energy is so important, the federal government is offering solar tax credits to people who want to make the change. The Federal Investment Tax Credit can reduce the upfront costs of solar panels and batteries by around 26%, which can be a big help if you want your own solar panels at home.
There are also state and local tax credits that could be offered depending on where you live. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, or the DSRE, contains a list of all tax credits and rebates that might be available to you.
You Can Earn Money from It
If you've got solar power at home and don't use much electricity, you can earn money by selling excess energy to electricity companies with a solar buyback program. So not only are you getting free electricity from the sun, but you could make a profit in cash or bill credits. Our solar buyback plan gives you bill credits for any excess energy your system produces. So, it could literally pay to go solar.
While around 40% of America's oil needs are met with local sources, the rest comes from outside the borders. Using solar power instead of non-renewables garnered from other countries means helping the US gain more energy independence from foreign states. And it's true for anywhere in the world – wherever you are on the planet, you'll have access to the sun's energy.
It Creates Jobs
With every growing industry comes a ton of new jobs. From solar panel manufacturing at solar farms to solar panel installation at homes, new positions for employment in the solar energy sector are showing up all the time. Renewable energy as a whole is responsible for millions of jobs in the US.
Considerations for Solar Energy
Solar energy is an excellent option for many consumers, especially those interested in helping the environment and keeping energy costs low. However, there are a few things to consider before you make the jump into solar energy.
Initial Investment Can be Expensive
Depending on your needs and location, the initial investment of installing solar panels can be expensive – anywhere between $15,000 and $25,000 for an average residential 5kW system. However, as technology progresses, these panels and installations are becoming less expensive all the time. Plus, there are those tax credits to think about!
You Might Not Like How Solar Panels Look
The aesthetics of solar panels aren't a significant concern for most, but if solar panels aren't your taste, you might find that the curb appeal of your house isn't where you'd like it to be.
It Can Take Up Space
If you use a lot of electricity at home, you'll need more solar panels to meet your household's demands. However, solar panels can take up a lot of roof space, and if you have a smaller home, you might find that your roof simply isn't large enough to accommodate all the panels. If this is an issue, you can opt to have some or all the solar panels installed in your yard instead.
It's Climate- and Weather-Dependent
While you can still get solar energy on cloudy days, you might find that there's less electricity being generated for your home. If you live in a climate that sees lots of rain or cloudy days, you might not get as much energy out of your solar panels as you would like. As an alternative, you could check out thermodynamic panels. These use the sun's heat instead of light to heat water for home use but are generally not as effective as typical PV panels.
How To Choose a Solar Energy Company in Texas
Even with a few minor drawbacks, switching over to solar energy is a great choice for your current and future electricity needs, especially as technology makes it more affordable and reliable. If you want to support solar power but don't want to install solar panels at your home, you can choose one of our Texas Shine Plans, which use Texas-based solar power to help you go green.
Know What You've Got
Before you switch over to a solar energy company, it's a good idea to make sure you know what you're currently working with as far as electricity goes. You may have to sift through some technical language in very fine print but getting the details will help you make the best choice. Pay special attention to your current monthly usage, the rate per kilowatt-hour, whether that rate is fixed or variable, and what type of renewable or non-renewable sources are being used. You can always reference your last electricity bill for this information.
Know What You Want
Now, make a list of what you're looking for in a new energy company. Prioritize what you want as far as cost, contract, flexibility, and energy sources are concerned.
Choosing the right energy plan depends on your individual (or household) needs, so you must know how much electricity you used on average during the last year. This will help when you look at fixed vs. variable rates and whether there are peak hour charges. Of course, you'll also want to ensure that the energy plans you're looking at use renewable energy, like solar.
Once you know what you're looking for, you can start comparing the offerings of different Texas electricity providers. Again, you'll want to make sure you look at rates, contract terms, fees, and any restrictions listed in the contract.
Check Out Reviews
If you're struggling to choose an electricity plan or provider, check out online reviews and ask for recommendations from friends or family. The personal experiences of others could give you a good indication of which Texas energy provider will be right for you.
Why Choose Rhythm
At Rhythm, we're confident that renewable energy is the way forward. All our energy plans are backed by 100% renewable energy, so you can rest assured that you're doing the right thing for the environment. There are no hidden fees or charges.