Environmental Responsibility Starts At Home: How Solar Panels Can Make A Difference

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When I speak to most people about the ways that they can make a difference to the planet, they tell me that one person isn’t going to make a significant change. But if that’s the attitude that we all adopt then, it’s right; nothing is going to get done.

But when you think that there are over 7 billion people on the planet, if each of us did a tiny bit, we could make a serious difference to the devastating effects of climate change that we’ve already created.

So, when I tell you that environmental responsibility starts at home, you might be wondering what you can do. One of the simplest things is to install solar panels. Not only is this a brilliant way to become more sustainable but you’ll also benefit yourself by saving money on energy.

The Importance Of A Cleaner Planet

I know that a lot of people bury their heads in the sand when it comes to environmental issues. I’ll admit that I was guilty of this myself for many years. It wasn’t until around five years ago that I finally opened my eyes to the things humans have done to this planet we apparently call home.

If you call somewhere home then surely that’s a place that you want to be in the best condition possible. You wouldn’t intentionally ruin the bricks and mortar you call home so why would you want to destroy the planet on which we live?

It’s a harsh truth and a very sobering thought when we look at the destruction we’ve already caused. But there is hope; by becoming more sustainable, we can make a difference and save the planet from further damage.

So, why is having a clean planet even important? It’s sadly not something that everyone is aware of but if we continue the way we’ve been going, the results will impact every living thing; including you and I.

Climate change is the main reason for most of the negative effects we are seeing. Things like a loss of habitat for wildlife, rising temperatures and rising ocean levels are all very real.

You might not think that these things would affect you but that’s where you’d be wrong. You see, when wildlife loses habitat, species may eventually become extinct and that leaves a hole in the food chain. When biodiversity drops, certain species become more dominant.

For example, in Yellowstone National Park many years ago, the grey wolf was hunted to extinction because humans saw them as a threat and ended up shooting every last individual. However, over the following 50 years, dramatic changes were noted within the park and the animals that the wolves once hunted became far too abundant.

Deer were overgrazing, causing a loss of habitat for smaller creatures like insects and small mammals. What’s more, thanks to a loss of trees, beavers were no longer able to build dams and this led to erosion (which can cause flooding.) To this end, everything was thrown out of balance and suddenly humans realised the importance of good biodiversity and began releasing wolves back into the park.

Within a very short space of time, the wolf populations grew and began preying on elk and deer which restored the balance. Climate change can have similar effects as populations of important keystone species are wiped out.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you of the need for a clean planet, consider some of the other impacts. For example, it’s reported that if we continue the way we’re going, it could lead to water shortages which would impact people all over the world.

What’s more, with rising temperatures and changing weather conditions, crops will cease to thrive. This directly impacts humans since many of the foods we rely on today would no longer be readily available.

So you see, when you refuse to recycle or continue using fossil fuels as your main energy source, you’re having a direct impact on the very future of our planet. These might be changes that you think won’t affect people until generations in the future but we’re already suffering from these effects today.

What’s Wrong With Fossil Fuels?

Fossil fuels have been used by humans for the last 150 years and it’s reported that they power around 80% of our energy needs. They include things like natural gas, coal and oil, all of which are harvested from the planet.

Knowing this, you might think this is a sustainable source; what with it being natural but that isn’t the case. The problem with fossil fuels is that we have to burn them in order to generate energy and this sends huge carbon emissions into the atmosphere. These emissions are so high that most authorities agree that fossil fuels are the main cause of global warming.

Generally speaking, burning oil and gas is a cleaner option than burning coal but it’s still nowhere near as good as renewable sources like solar and wind power.

What’s more, we are burning through our fossil fuel reserves at an alarming rate. The earth cannot keep up with the demand and eventually, we’re going to run out of them altogether.

So, it makes sense to jump on the renewable energy bandwagon now, before it’s too late. And you might think that the end of fossil fuels isn’t something you’ll see in your lifetime. However, if you’re below the age of around 40, then it’s highly likely that you will. According to energy supplier Octopus, fossil fuels could be depleted by the year 2060.

Is Solar Power A Sustainable Option?

Quite simply, solar power is a very sustainable way of generating energy. It’s not without its emissions as reports show that, during the 30-year life of a solar panel, around 41 grams of carbon would be emitted. That’s about the size of a chicken egg. But this is meagre in comparison to natural gases which emit 12 times more carbon and coal is even worse, emitting up to 20 times more carbon than solar power.

On top of this, solar energy is renewable which means we can continue using it without depleting any resources. When we use fossil fuels, we are slowly getting through the resources that the earth has. For example, crude oil is a naturally occurring substance that is generated from the remains of decaying organisms. However, this process takes millions of years to complete.

The sun, on the other hand, continues to shine and when we harvest energy from it, we’re taking nothing away. The same can be said for wind and water power.

How Will Solar Panels Benefit Me And My Home?

Out of all of the renewable types of energy, solar power is the most reliable. With modern advances in solar technology, panels are able to continue generating power even on an overcast day.

If you’re looking to improve your responsibility towards the environment then installing solar panels is a fantastic place to start. Of course, I understand that some people may be dubious but when you understand the many benefits of solar panels, I don’t think you’ll be sitting on the fence for much longer.

Reduced Energy Costs

One of the most obvious benefits of using solar panels is that you’ll see a significant reduction in your energy costs. At the moment, people are paying over the odds for energy and it’s something that’s caused financial breakdowns in homes and businesses all over the UK.

You’ve probably looked at your recent electricity bill and recoiled in horror as the money has left your bank account. But after the initial investment you make installing solar panels, that’s it. You won’t need to pay anything else (except for maintenance costs but those are extremely few and far between; a solar panel can last up to 30 years without the need for repairs.)

It’s reported that homeowners could save a whopping 50-70% on their current energy bills just by installing solar panels. So, while you may see this as an action to take environmental responsibility, it’s got its financial benefits as well.

Less Reliance On The Grid

Have you ever been sitting comfortably at home, enjoying a movie with your family only to suddenly find yourself sitting in the dark with no power?

It’s unfortunately a common occurrence when problems with the energy lines happen and homes are left without electricity; sometimes for days, in the worst situations. Now, energy suppliers do work hard to fix these problems and blackouts are only usually temporary. But that doesn’t make them any less inconvenient.

Having solar panels means that you won’t be affected by these blackouts because your home will be generating its own power.

What’s more, by also installing solar batteries you won’t even need to rely on grid power during the hours of night. These batteries store any unused energy for up to 24 hours and can then be used when your solar panels are not receiving sunlight. It’s a much more reliable way of powering your home.

Increase Property Value

Property experts are always talking about ways in which you can boost the value of your home; extensions, kitchen and bathroom upgrades, a new driveway, better insulation, you name it!

But what a lot of people don’t realise is that solar panels are another excellent way to increase your property’s value.

As with anything, you’ll need to make an upfront investment but it’s estimated that the mere installation of these panels could increase your home’s value by as much as 14%!

An Investment For The Future

I have heard people saying time and time again that they don’t want to install solar panels because of the upfront costs.

I won’t sugar coat it, installing solar panels can be a pricey venture. In the UK, the installation alone can cost anywhere between £2000 and £18,000; that’s not small change.

However, the cost of your installation will vary depending on factors such as the size of your property, the power demands and the type of panels you go for.

While it is a large investment, it’s one that will soon pay off because of the reduction in your energy bills. It’s important to see it this way and also consider that, once installed, you won’t need to worry about the panels for years to come.

As I touched on earlier, a single solar panel can last as long as 30 years without the need for maintenance and repairs. So again, while you’re forking out a lot initially, that will be the last financial cost you have to worry about for decades.

I should also mention that when you have solar panels, you may end up with excess energy and this can be sold back to the grid. So, not only have you made a long-term investment, lowered your energy bills, and increased the value of your property, you’ll also be making a little money back.

Final Thoughts

Every single person that lives on this planet has a responsibility to it. It’s the place we call home yet for so many years, we’ve allowed it to fall to ruin.

Now that the effects of human behaviour are becoming ever more obvious, it’s time that we all stood up and did our part. If we don’t, the results could be devastating so there’s no better time to act.

Your responsibility to the environment starts at home and something as simple as changing the way you generate energy can make all the difference. Moreover, once you understand the many benefits of solar panels, you’ll surely be excited for this new way of life.

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