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Zoned Heating and a Solar PV Array: Save Money this Winter

Brrr… Old Man Winter introduced himself with a vengeance right around the holidays. Temps on the east coast dropped from moderate 60s to the lower 40s as the winds whipped about like a hurricane. Fortunately for those with a solar PV installation, there was still plenty of sunlight to power homes for free. But unless you have electric heat, unfortunately, a solar PV array won’t lower your gas or oil home heating bills.

There is a common misconception people have that a solar installation will also reduce your oil bills. It’s just not true. But as we find new and better ways to harness free, clean, renewable energy from sources like the sun and wind, we can begin to power more of our country on these energy sources — and this is one way that solar can, eventually, reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

Think about it: If you have a solar PV array providing you with free electricity, wouldn’t it make sense to switch from a natural gas or propane stove/clothes dryer to an electric model? It’s possible we could start making the same changes on a nationwide scale.

But let’s talk locally again. What about your heating system? Maybe you really could say goodbye to oil…

Goodbye to Oil, Hello to Solar and Zoned Heating
Electric heat used to be considered an expensive option, reserved for those in the south and southwest regions where people don’t need much in the way of heating. But today’s portable space heaters are effective, decorative, safe, inexpensive, and energy-efficient.

More and more homes are using electric fireplaces for a cozy look and for warmth. It’s a no-brainer that you’ll save money when you only heat the rooms you’re in at the time. Electric heaters make it easy to do this; some even come with timers or thermostats so you don’t have to think about your heat.

What we like best about these zoned heating solutions, of course, is they can run on the power from a solar PV array. If you’re smart about your energy use (i.e., run them during the day only in rooms where people are home, and in bedrooms at night on a lower setting), today’s energy-efficient space heaters will literally cost nothing to run.

Of course, don’t forget “passive solar” solutions, like opening your blinds in the day to harness natural sunlight to heat your home. But if you get a little chilly, turn on your portable electric heater: the sun’s irradiance is always free to use!

Post Written by
A full-time freelance writer, Dawn frequently covers energy efficiency, green living, and topics like LED lighting and whole home control systems for a number of blogs and technology trade magazines. Dawn is proud to live in New York as the state vies to beat out New Jersey as the East coast top dog of solar energy and is waiting for the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate legislation to pass before installing solar panels on her Long Island home.

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