Home Solar Installation in Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa is one of the most livable small cities in America and is booming with new solar energy installations and further residential solar potential. Let’s take a look at some of the factors driving the switch to solar in residential Santa Rosa and beyond.
The Cost of Energy
PG&E, the electrical utility in Santa Rosa, and most of California, has some of the highest electricity rates in the United States. Residents of the Golden State on average pay about twice as much as many other states. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, California residents on average pay 18.87 cents per kilowatt hour (KPH). That’s about twice as much as North Dakota, Louisiana, Arkansas and Idaho. The higher cost of electricity in Santa Rosa, and really all of California, makes the cost comparable cost of a solar installation more favorable to solar.
According to Sperling’s Best Places, Santa Rosa enjoys 256 sunny days per year, which is about 25% higher than the United States average. Plenty of sunlight makes Santa Rosa an optimal locale for retrofitting homes with cost-effective solar energy systems.
Competition & Incentives Keep Costs In Check
With over 100 Santa Rosa area solar installation companies listed in Yelp, homeowners have abundant solar installation provider choices. Competition tends to help keep prices in check and tends to shift the conversation from cost to quality, useful life, and service.
At the present time, homeowner’s still enjoy a favorable Net Energy Metering (NEM) program through PG&E, as well as a 30% Federal tax credits and other incentives.
Over the last six years, during the same period that home prices have skyrocketed, the cost of solar panels has dropped while the solar panel efficiency has dramatically increased (as it has in all previous years). According to Bloomberg, this has brought the panel cost per solar cell down dramatically.
According to Zillow.com, the median home value in Santa Rosa has increased from the September 2011 nadir of $298,000 to a May 2017 median home value of $529,000, a 77.5% increase. This increase, combined with solar installation costs coming down over the same period, makes solar a proportionately less expensive home improvement relative to the a Santa Rosa home’s value.
According to City Data, Santa Rosa median household income in now approaching $70,000 per year, increasing solar installation finance options and general affordability further. With county programs like SCEIP or CaliforniaFirst, any homeowner can take advantage of financing, regardless of income.
Types of Solar Energy For The Home
The use of solar energy reduces monthly energy bills, improves property values and reduces the carbon footprint. Renewable Energy World describes various technologies that have been developed to use solar energies for converting the sun’s energy and light into power for light, heat, hot water, and electricity. Of course, solar energy can even be used for cooling. The most popular option at present is solar panels, converting most of the visible light and about half of the ultraviolet and infrared spectrum into usable solar energy. The major technologies for the home are summarized below.
Photovoltaic (solar cell) Systems
Solar cells convert the sun’s light (photons) directly into electricity (voltage). The process is therefore called the photovoltaic (PV) effect. Solar cells are made up of semiconductors somewhat like those used in computer chips. When these semiconducting materials absorb the sunlight, the solar energy knocks electrons free from their atoms. The electrons then flow through the semiconductors to produce electricity. They can be used to power items as small as a calculator or be combined into arrays that provide enough power for a house, an electric utility or a large industrial facility. For the home, solar cells are usually placed in modules holding about 40 cells, mounted on PV arrays and mounted on the rooftop so they face south or on a tracking device that follows the sun. Photovoltaic solar systems offer the most versatile use of the sun’s energy, capable of powering any electric device.
Solar Hot Water
Most solar water heating systems for buildings have two major components, a solar collector and a storage tank. The flat-plate collector, mounted on the roof, is the most common type used. A thin, flat, rectangular box, its transparent cover faces the sun. Small tubes passing through the collector carry fluid such as water or antifreeze solution. The tubes are attached to an absorber plate painted black to absorb heat. The liquid, heated in the collector, is piped to the storage tank. Solar water heating systems can either be active systems which use pumps to move the water or passive which rely on gravity. Most are active.
Passive Solar Heating and Daylighting
Passive solar energy has been used by many cultures for centuries. Since the south side of buildings receive the most sunlight, most passive solar systems have large south-facing windows. Floor and wall materials that absorb heat in the daytime and release it at night use a feature called direct gain. Sunspaces, which are a lot like greenhouses, are built on the south side of houses to warm the interior. A trombe wall, on the other hand, is a thick, south-facing wall painted black and made of a material efficient at absorbing heat. The wall heats up gradually during the day and then cools gradually at night as it passes the heat to the interior of the house. A clerestory, a row of windows near the roof peak, provides daylighting, especially for large open interior floor plans.
A Little More About Santa Rosa
The Visit Santa Rosa website describes Santa Rosa, California as the “urban heart of wine country.” Fifty-five miles north of San Francisco, it is the center of economic activity in northern California’s Sonoma County wine country. It is home to professionals, especially those interested in wine and high-tech manufacturing, as well as artists of all types and ages. It is one of the origins of the farm-to-table movement and is known for local produce, livestock, beer and wine. Santa Rosa has a warm climate and is surrounded by rolling hills featuring farms, orchards, hopyards and vineyards. Its summers are hot and dry and the winters are cool and foggy or rainy.
U.S. News analyzed 100 metropolitan areas in the United States to find the best place to live based on each area’s job market, quality of life and people’s desire to live there. Santa Rosa ranked number 52, with an overall score of 6.5 out of 10. With an estimated population of 174,170 residents inhabiting 67,396 housing units, of which SINGLE FAMILY HOUSEHOLD STAT
For more statistical information about specific neighborhoods in and around Santa Rosa, visit: Alta Vista, Apple Valley, Aston Avenue, Bellevue Ranch, Bennett Valley, Burbank Gardens, Cobblestone, Northeast Rohnert Park, Northwest Rohnert Park, Northwest Santa Rosa, University District. Here’s more info organized by Santa Rosa by zip codes: 95401, 95403, 95404, 95407, 95409, 95472.
Santa Rosa enjoys many advantages which drive an ever-increasing number of homeowners to go solar.