solar panels for your home

The Go Solar California program looks pretty cool and starts January 1, 2007. It's an incentive program for people to get solar panels installed for their existing homes (but also for new homes and buildings).

California has made a bold decision… to place 3,000 megawatts of new, solar produced electricity systems on rooftops by 2017. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's goal is to put solar systems on a million California roofs.

Apparently only 0.3% of our energy comes from solar panels. It's nice to see this incentive program.

Great article in the SF Chronicle last January about installing solar panels for your home in the Bay Area. They recommend Borrego Solar and I looked up Sky Power Systems and they looked pretty good.

We've noticed a lot of solar panels on homes while on vacation in Hawaii but also in our neighborhood. Most of the new complex/developments are being constructed in a "green way" with radiant heating, energy efficient windows, reclaimed wood from trail tracks in China or Brazil (that one is funny), bamboo or cork flooring, and solar panels which is great. Several houses nearby also have solar panels installed too.

Here's another article about installing solar panels yourself in a step-by-step.

It sounds like the cost of installing a solar panel for our small house will be in the $15,000 (w/ rebate?) to $24,000. Given that our monthly electricity bills are under $50, it's about a 25-40 year break even point. $5,000 – $10,000 total installation costs is what it would need to get down to in order for it to be in the ballpark of real consideration.

tankless water heater

Takagi TK-2
Takagi TK-2

I've gotten a bit of a home owner's vocabulary now that I'll share in a bit. It's good to know this stuff but I kinda don't want to know sub-flooring, joists, dry wall, copper pipes, forced air, radiant heating, blah, blah, blah.

The next two items on tap is replacing our galvanized piping with copper piping. Galvanized pipes corrode and rust so we're replacing everything with copper pipes which doesn't do that I guess. We're also stacking our dryer on top of our washing machine which is exciting because it's giving us a ton more space. (I'm a tad domesticated.)
Anyway, I've been reading up on tankless water heaters and the benefits are:

  • unlimited hot water
  • space savings, since it's a small box
  • energy savings since it's on demand hot water versus maintaining a hot water store

The cons seem to be that sometimes you have to wait for the hot water to get going which is lame if all you want to do is wash your hands or hand wash dishes.

The brand that people like I guess is Takagi. It's interesting to read up on it anyway, apparently the system can be used for radiant floor heating too. Probably not going to get a tankless water heater but it's cool when I hear other people get it installed, it's becoming quite popular and already used widely in the UK.

There are other energy efficient things we're looking at like insulation (easy to do, just need to get done) and solar panels (but not for another 5+ years). We've got energy efficient windows, a front loading washing machine, and that's about it on the being energy efficient stuff.