Here we are, in an escalating energy crisis, with every corner of the planet being plundered to meet our need for fuels. It’s ironic when just up there in the sky is a massive source of completely free energy: the sun. And we have the eco technology to tap that free energy. Making use of it doesn’t mean spending thousands going a hundred percent solar-powered. It&rsquo ;s not a pipe dream if you live in area that isn’t sun-drenched all year round. Unless you live in an igloo, solar panels will be a great investment for your home.

The technology that goes into photovoltaic cells and solar panels has kept on advancing. As solar panels have become mainstream home products the price has come down. The problem of storing energy harvested from the sun has also been addressed. If you live somewhere with lots of sunshine you can even offset your energy bills by selling the surplus back to the national grid. This is eco technology that saves the planet by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and will save you money too.

The big question is: is it worth the outlay? Installation could cost $15 000 dollars for an average home. If you’re lucky, your local authority may have a scheme for eco-friendly energy strategies. You may be able to get a substantial subsidy for installing solar panels. Even if you have to pay yourself, the savings really do add up over time and will add value to your home. Although annual savings on using solar to heat your water (and perhaps power other appliances) are relatively modest (a few hundred dollars per year), it’s the income you can get from feeding the surplus back to the national grid that’s the real economic attraction.

An average household using 5000 kWh of electricity per year could generate 40-50% of that, or more, with a suitable solar panel installation – and we’re not talking about areas with endless sunshine. Even in areas with dull and cloudy winters, some solar energy can be captured. The bonus is that the surplus you generate in summer will effectively subsidise your energy costs over the winter. A modest installation might save you just a couple of hundred dollars a year in electricity bills, but you could get six times that for selling on the extra.

Saving money is a priority for many of us these days, but there’s an equally compelling argument. If every household had some solar panels, it could make a really significant difference to our reliance on traditional energy sources. From the Arctic to the shrinking unspoilt areas of the planet, all possible sources are being ruthlessly exploited, with terrible consequences for animals and the ecological balance. Eco-technology has given us a partial solution. Now it’s up to us to make use of it. 

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