We are now coming in the times where home owners are looking for the next best thing when it comes to being able to save on energy costs. With the prices of gas, propane and electricity constantly on the rise, having the options of saving on those are becoming more in demand. Which brings up the topic of Solar. When Solar power first came available, it meant having to place ping pong table sized panels to the roof of your house. It was the poor aesthetic look of these panels that became one of the reasons why it never took off as being an essential way to save on energy. Now over 40 years later, technology has allowed for the invention of a more compact style of solar panels. You can now install “Solar Shingles” on the roof of your home. They come in a variety of styles that will suite with the architectural look of your house and can almost blend seamlessly with the style of roof you choose.
These systems—called “building-integrated photovoltaics,” or BIPVs—combine solar cells with slate, metal, fiber-cement, even asphalt roofing. Electricity is generated when the sun strikes a semiconductor layer, typically crystalline silicon, laminated to the shingle’s surface. One shingle by itself doesn’t produce a whole lot of power—between 50 and 200 watts, enough to run a window fan—but harness hundreds of square feet of them together, and you can generate enough electricity to power a whole house. The shingles get installed over new or existing roof sheathing, then an electrician (or trained roofer) has to wire the units together and tie them in to your home’s electrical system. [This Old House posting]
Unfortunately the upfront cost for such an energy savings is still pretty high. Though given they have come this far with this energy product, in time we will see the price drop.