Rising energy costs and concern for energy security and the environment are driving forces in a growing trend to incorporate renewable energy technology into residential building, according to ENERGY STAR® Homes.
Using the “Renewable Energy Ready Home Solar Site Assessment Tool,” builders can now easily evaluate a home’s solar resource opportunity. By entering location, orientation, roof inclination/pitch and percent shading, the tool will estimate a site’s resource potential and compare it to an optimal solar resource potential for the same location. Optimal potential is typically achieved with a 180 degree orientation, roof inclination roughly equal to the site’s latitude and a percentage shading of zero.
Proposed site locations that achieve a minimum of 75 percent of the optimal solar resource potential are considered good candidates to be outfitted as renewable energy ready.
When building a new home, incorporating renewable ready details in planning and construction is relatively easy and inexpensive. Doing so will greatly simplify the future installation of a renewable energy system.
Then, when the time is right, solar energy can be used for electric systems and/or hot water. All it takes is the installation of a one inch metal conduit for the DC wire run from the designated array location(s) to the electrical service panel. Both ends can be capped and labeled for future use.
To optimize the future benefits of a solar energy system, develop a detailed landscape with clear emphasis on low-growth vegetation and place roof penetrations above or north of the proposed array to prevent casting shadows on the array location.
Return on Investment.
Beyond some advance planning, the actual cost of adding the necessary metal conduit is generally less than $10. Considering the potential return on that small investment with the installation of photovoltaic panels down the road, most builders and home buyers are now opting to make their new homes renewable energy ready.