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Solar Power Demand Expected to Grow in 2013 by 4.3 GW

According to the latest edition of NPD Solarbuzz North America PV Markets Quarterly, the demand of solar PV power (photovoltaics) in the U.S. will increase with about 20% compared to 2012.

Much of the growth is thanks to California, Arizona, New Jersey and North Carolina – where 70% of the growth has taken place.

The report also predict that the growth in 2014 will put U.S. at above 5 GW of solar PV power, which in case the compound annual growth rate has been 70% since 2009.

Although a large part of the installations this year have been commercial and utility-based (because target levels of certain state mandates have to be met), we also need to recognize the massive growth in the residential market (booth rooftop and ground mounts) following the new and clever financial models:

“[…] residential demand is being driven by new third-party ownership models that allow homeowners and businesses to install PV systems with minimal upfront commitments.” explains Chris Sunsong, analyst at NPD Solarbuzz.

He is of course referring to the wide array of leasing options homeowners across the country now have access to. People can go solar without any upfront costs – and start saving from day 1. Although purchasing a solar system with cash will bring in more long-term savings than a solar lease, not every homeowner can afford it (or don`t have good enough credit for a well-suited loan).

Just a week ago, Affordable Solar opened up solar leasing for homeowners in New Mexico, which means that around 3 out of 4 American homes now have access to solar leasing programs.

For more information on solar panels and to see if you`re house is a good fit for solar, check out Energy Informative.

Energy Star’s Summer Tips For Staying Cool During the Summer

Things to Do Right Away

  • Turn off machines and equipment when not in use.
  • Seal off unused areas and do not cool these areas.
  • Turn off lights when leaving a room.
  • The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) recommends keeping your thermostat set between 73 and 78 degrees (A rule of thumb: every one-degree increase in temperature is equivalent to a 3-percent savings in your cooling costs).
  • Reduce hot water settings while maintaining an acceptable operating temperature.
  • Make sure outside air ventilation is not above recommended levels.
  • Use fans (ceiling, attic or window) where appropriate to circulate air; moving air feels cooler.

Defend Your Building From the Sun
(Load Reductions)


The first line of defense is to block the sun’s direct rays by:

  • Drawing blinds and drapes during the day and opening them at night.
  • Applying window films on the south and west sides of the building.
  • Installing awnings on the south and west sides of the building.
  • Planting trees and other types of vegetation to shade the building.

Heat Shield

Heat can also enter your building by other means. Block it by:

  • Installing light-colored roofs (if your roof does not need to be replaced you can apply a light-colored coating).
  • Adding ceiling insulation (ASHRAE recommends R-values between 25 and 30).
  • Improving attic ventilation (since temperatures soar in the attic, make sure your vents are open and operational or install a fan near the top for increased ventilation).
  • Keeping exterior doors closed as much as possible.
  • Sealing heating and cooling ductwork (use duct tape, mastic, or caulk to seal areas such as joints and elbows).
  • Sealing exterior cracks and holes (install weather-stripping and caulk in small cracks in the walls, windows, floors, doors, and ceilings).
  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficients [SHGC] of 0.4 or less and a Visible Transmittance of 0.6 or greater).

Go On the Offensive
(Strike Back)

Strengthening your building against the summer sun (decreasing your buildings cooling load by eliminating unnecessary heat gains to the building) will allow your air-conditioning system to operate using less energy while providing maximum cooling comfort! The most important aspect of load reduction will be the ability to right-size your equipment to smaller, more energy-efficient models.

Air Conditioners

Install a packaged air-conditioning unit or heat pump system that employs higher efficiency compressors, larger condensers, evaporators, and variable speed drives for the fans. Most currently installed packaged units have an energy-efficiency rating (EER) of less than 9 (EER is defined as cooling capacity divided by power requirements). New packaged units have EER ratings as high as 13 – the higher the better!

Don’t Forget – Maintenance

Maintaining your heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system is important for high efficiency and low operating costs:

  • Replace or clean reusable air filters regularly to minimize resistance to airflow.
  • Keep all cooling coils clean to maintain efficiency.
  • Ask your HVAC contractor to check refrigerant levels.
  • Use ceiling fans (blades should rotate clockwise in the summer months to draw cooler air up from the floor).
  • Use fans to draw cooler air inside during the night and to circulate air during the day. (The effectiveness of night cooling depends on whether your area experiences a significant drop in temperature and low humidity levels at night.)