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Home Power Solar

Victoria Said:

Has anyone seen the TV advertisement for home solar power that touts "it could be free" and has 42 in its site

We Answered:

There is a program in San Francisco to provide free solar power to some underprivileged homes, but that is on a very limited basis. Obviously, demand far outstrips supply.

I think Berkeley and some other cities may provide loans so that someone can buy a solar system. The payments on the loans may be less than the savings on electric bills, so in that sense, someone could switch over to some solar for "free".

Some cities in the USA are still rebating to the tune of $5 a watt, so if you're lucky enough to live in one of those areas, your panels may indeed be free. But for the US in general, no.

Jose Said:

How can I upgrade my home with solar power or geothermal energy with a limited budget?

We Answered:

This is the same information that I gave another individual, as to the cost of 100% solar. (see below)

Where you live are there incentives for installing solar, is there a net exchange with the utility company? Use these incentives.

If your budget is limited, you can install panels in phases. 25%, 10%, whatever you can safely budget and then expand from there. Also, whatever you decide will be your final kilowatts for the system, ensure you buy the other components up front, that will handle that kW, so that, you do not have to have to upgrade them later. These are items such as converter, inverters, cables, etc...
Warning, if you install a system in phases, ensure you buy compatible panels, I stay with the same brand and ratings. Same with batteries. Let's just say it keeps life simpler.

Batteries are another item that can be bought in phases.

As far as geothermal goes, I am installing a geoexchange system in my home to cover all heating and cooling needs. And yes, I'll have to save a good chunk of change to do this.
I do not feel that it would be a good idea to install this system in phases or to buy cheap.

You'll may already know this but here is a calculation from Gaiam's Real Goods catalog.

Find your daily utility usage by dividing the kilowatt-hours (kWh) used on an average month’s utility bill by 30. Divide that number by 5 (the average number of peak sun hours in the United States), and multiply that number by 1.43 to account for system losses. This is the size of the solar system, in kilowatts, that you will need. Multiply that number by $9000.00 ($9/watt installed) for a good ballpark idea of the gross installed cost.
Please note, the closer you are to the Equator the higher the average peak sun hours and the further away you are the lower. I live in Minnesota, the average peak sun hours there is 4.5.

Please note, this is an estimate. It may be high or low.

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