source IEEE Spectrum title Solar power will help save you energy by a long shot article source New York Times title A new study says solar power saves you energy equivalent to 5% of your home’s energy use in some cases article source ABC News article New research from the University of Michigan finds that switching to the use of solar power reduces your carbon emissions by 5% or more, and that the savings are significant even when the amount of electricity you generate is relatively small.
The study, which was published today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, was conducted by researchers from the U-M Energy Institute, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense.
“We found that solar power actually reduces our energy use relative to our existing energy consumption, which means that switching will save you an average of 5 percent of your energy use per year,” said study lead author J.M. Schaffer, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.
“That is a substantial cost reduction that will be especially meaningful for people who live in regions where they have limited energy resources.”
Solar power is the use or conversion of sunlight, or sunlight energy, to electricity, by using a solar panel or an electric generator to convert the sunlight into electricity.
Schauffer said the amount that is actually saved depends on the location of the solar panel, which is where the energy is used.
“If the panel is in the roof, it may be the difference between a 5 percent cost reduction and a 10 percent cost increase,” he said.
Solar panels produce electricity when sunlight is concentrated into a specific spot, such as when a tree is in bloom or when a solar array is in motion.
Schaffer said that because the panels generate electricity, the amount produced can be directly compared to the amount used, and can be a useful tool in determining whether the energy saved is worth the cost of solar panels.
Schauer and his team used data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which was established in 2006 and is a federally funded research institute.
“The NREL data showed that solar panels actually increased the efficiency of our power grid, and so that saved us energy,” he added.
Solar panel efficiency was measured by calculating the average efficiency of the panels that produced electricity from the sun, using data from a variety of sources, including a variety, such the National Weather Service, that measured the energy produced by the sun and the amount in the air when the sun was shining, and a variety that measured how long it took for sunlight to reach the panels, Schaffer said.
“It was very, very difficult to find data that showed a significant reduction in energy use when panels were operating in the shade,” Schaufers said.
“These results are not surprising.
When we were working with NREL, we looked at a number of different types of energy production technologies, including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and geothermal thermal,” Schaffer added.
“We looked at how long they were in operation, how much energy was generated, how long those panels lasted, and how much power they could produce, all of which would be important for a home user.”
What surprised us was that when we did those calculations, we found that the amount we were saving from the panels was comparable to the savings from other types of electric power production technologies.
“So they’re a good choice if you’re looking for an energy source that’s affordable for the type of building you’re considering.””
In other words, they’re more cost effective than other energy sources, because they’re actually less expensive to run and they produce more power,” he explained.
“So they’re a good choice if you’re looking for an energy source that’s affordable for the type of building you’re considering.”
The results also showed that switching from coal to solar panels was a better choice for households in regions that were heavily dependent on fossil fuels for their energy supply.
“There are people who don’t have the choice of energy sources that can be converted into electricity, so they choose coal,” Schafer said.