SUNTEX Mendoza

Our Contacts

2909 E Arkansas Ln Suite C,

Arlington, TX 76010

Read More

Solar Energy and Climate Change in 2022 by Verna Badenhorst

Solar Energy Climate ChangeWhat is Solar Energy?

Solar Energy is radiant light and heat from the Sun that is harnessed using a range of technologies such as solar power to generate electricity, solar thermal energy (including solar water heating), and solar architecture, according to Wikipedia.

It is an essential source of renewable energy, and its technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending on how they capture and distribute solar energy or convert it into solar power. Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic systems, concentrated solar power, and solar water heating to harness the energy.

Passive solar techniques include orienting a building to the Sun, selecting materials with favorable thermal mass or light-dispersing properties, and designing spaces that naturally circulate air.

The large magnitude of solar energy available makes it a highly appealing source of electricity (Solar energy – Wikipedia).

Solar energy, also known as solar power, is a clean and renewable source  that comes from the sun energy It’s considered to be a clean and renewable source of power because the sun can produce an infinite amount of it, and it doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere like fossil fuels do.

Technology is used to convert sunlight into electricity. The energy can be converted to heat, light, or electricity and used in many ways like powering homes, businesses, and even cars.

How Does Solar Energy Work? Solar Energy Climate Change

The sun is the primary source of energy for earth, and it has been for billions of years. Solar panels are a way to harness this energy and turn it into usable power. Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells that capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity.

The electricity they produce can be used to power anything from a cell phone to an entire home, or even an entire city. The amount of electricity produced by a solar panel depends on how much sunlight is hitting it at any given time, as well as how well it’s designed.

A solar panel in New York will produce more electricity than one in Florida because Florida gets less sunlight than New York does. The best panels are those that are designed to receive the most amount of sunlight possible.

A solar panel has several different components, but they all work together to create power. A solar panel is made up of two basic parts: cells and wiring. Cells are what capture the sun’s energy and turn it into electricity, while wiring is how this electricity gets sent out of the system.

How Does Solar Power Benefit the Environment?

The more I learn about the benefits of solar energy the more I understand its implications. Many systems use solar energy, and as energy prices rise and fossil fuel reserves run out, solar energy is becoming more and more efficient.

Homeowners can add savings by switching to solar each month. Even as an alternative to energy produced by fossil fuels, solar energy offers many environmental benefits. Solar power not only saves you money on your electricity bill, but it also helps you make a positive change in the natural world around you.

The traditional source of electricity was the fireplace. Large amounts of coal are burned to fuel our homes and cities contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. We breathe this air, and it is also a major contributor to climate change with potentially dire consequences for all of us.

The carbon released into the atmosphere when coal and gas are burned contributes to local and global pollution. On the other hand, solar energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, owning a solar-powered home saves you from burning over 5000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

This equates to planting over 150 trees each year. Imagine thousands of people switching to solar energy! It all starts with each of us doing our part. Transitioning to solar is something you can do today. It’s healthier air to breathe because it emits fewer greenhouse gases each year and less dirt for all of us to breathe.

As urban populations grow, we need to reduce pollutant emissions for our health and the health of the planet.

Another advantage of solar energy is the precious water resource in the environment. In addition to serving as an alternative to hydroelectric power, solar energy uses far less water than other energy sources. Coal, natural gas, and other conventional energy sources require large amounts of water to operate.

Harnessing solar energy can also keep rivers and bodies of water clean when water needs are at their peak. Other energy sources often pollute surrounding streams and lakes. This can have serious long-term consequences for the ecosystems that depend on it.

Using solar energy in your home also helps reduce air pollution from cars. At least the car is moving away from you. Whether you want to drive an electric car now or own a home in the future, you can offset the pollution caused by fossil fuels. By powering your home with solar panels, you can change using electricity from coal and other polluting sources.

With solar power installed in your home you won’t have to worry about your utility bills rising. Even in the industry you can make a lot of money. You can feel more confident while doing something positive for the world around you.

Solar power has a lot of benefits for the environment: it doesn’t produce any greenhouse gas emissions or air pollution, it doesn’t require burning fossil fuels, it doesn’t produce radioactive waste or nuclear waste and it reduces our dependency on fossil fuel imports from unstable regions in the world. It’s clean, green, and sustainable.

In order to use solar power, you need to make sure that you have a place for the photovoltaic cells. The panels generate energy when exposed to sunlight, so they should be in an area with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. You can also buy solar-powered streetlights or solar lighting for your home.

Can we Solve Climate Change with More Solar Panels?

Climate change is a sad reality and is changing the world as we know it. Its effects are seen all over the world in extreme weather conditions wreaking havoc on the environment, economy, and society. Climate change is part of the human experience and will continue for years to come.

We must solve climate change by investing in renewable energy. The problem is that it’s not happening fast enough, and the world is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) renewable energy, and in particular power generation, has entered a virtuous cycle of falling costs, increasing deployment, and accelerated technological progress, up-to-date data on costs has become a critical for policy makers, business, researchers, and others. Solar PV module prices have fallen by around 90% since the end of 2009, while wind turbine prices have fallen by 49-78% since 2010 making renewable energy cost competitive (Power generation costs (irena.org).

Conclusion: The Future of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is the future. It is not just because of environmental concerns, but also because it is the most cost-effective source of energy. It is only a matter of time before we see renewable energy as a mainstream form of power generation.

Contact Suntex LLC today to find out how to add solar power to your home. We will work with you to determine how much energy you need and design the right system for your home and your energy needs.

The good news is: the future of renewable energy looks bright.

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by Energy Consultant, Verna Badenhorst. Please reach out directly to SUNTEX if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content. If you would like to learn more about the work Verna is doing, feel free to check out her Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087851139652 

Read More

5 Quick Ways to Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint: Part 1 of 3

Now, more than ever, our world is being impacted by climate related mega disasters, due to extreme climate change. We as a whole, need to act quickly to lessen our carbon footprint to save the planet, otherwise there will be dire consequences.

Over the past two weeks, five areas across the United States alone, have experienced flooding that happens once every thousand years. Areas in Dallas, St. Louis, eastern Kentucky, Mississippi and southeastern Illinois have been inundated with historic levels of rainfall. According to the Washington Post, this amount of rainfall usually has a .1 percent chance of happening in any given year; it has happened in five different areas in less than two weeks!

This type of flooding and other massive natural disasters is not uncommon for people to experience anymore. Natural disasters have been gradually getting worse while becoming more frequent as global temperatures continue to rise, in fact the United States experiences the highest number of natural disasters every year.

Carbon FootprintTo reduce the number of natural disasters and lessen their impacts, we need to balance the carbon equation. Per the Paris Agreement, the United States has pledged to eliminate its emissions and work towards capping the global temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2050 before climate change turns calamitous. If we fail to reach this goal the natural disasters happening around the world will be amplified to biblical proportions.

There’s good news though, we as consumers and businesses can help to reach this goal! It will require radical and rapid changes across the entire American economy, but by working together to reduce our ecological footprint we hold the keys necessary to counteract climate change.

According to Seth Godin, best-selling author of The Carbon Almanac, states that “it’s not too late.”  He believes we can start to solve the problem of reducing our carbon footprint with businesses leading the charge in sustainability and ecological innovation and technologies. With businesses spearheading this revolution, consumers will start to follow suite until it’s a normal idea to support companies that are backing green initiatives.

Building businesses that create more demand for carbon-zero products or services is not something that can be accomplished overnight, but there are ways you and your company can quickly take steps in the direction of reducing your carbon footprint. By supporting sustainable causes and ideas, we can all start building a sustainable and hopeful future.

In today’s blog post, we are going to look at the first two ways you and your company can start reducing your carbon footprint!

1. Buying Electric Vehicles

Our first way to help shrink your ecological footprint is to look into switching fleet vehicles your company currently uses from gas to electric, especially if those vehicles put on a lot of miles in a year.

Transportation is a growing source of global greenhouse emissions that is helping drive climate change. A PBS article on global warming states that, “in 2019, 23% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions came from transportation and contributed to 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.”

Not only can switching to electric vehicles cut emissions by 60% over fossil fuel vehicles, but they can also save an average of 1.5 million grams of carbon dioxide! Since electric vehicles do not have tailpipes, they emit nothing when operating, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, most models can go more than 200 miles on a fully charged battery.

In other great news, EV batteries can now be recycled! The Department of Energy (DOE) recently launched the first lithium-ion battery recycling center, The ReCell Center, in hopes of creating a profitable method to improve recycling rates and reduce the reliance on supplies from foreign countries. Recycling EV batteries reduces the production costs by 10 to 30% along with reducing emissions, waste, and the need for new materials.

Outside of government incentives that lower the price of purchasing electric vehicles, they also have a lower operating cost. The DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center states that “the operation and maintenance costs of EV’s averages about 3 cents per mile and they achieve their best fuel economy during stop-and-go driving conditions.”

While some companies don’t need a fleet of vehicles; the ones that do have fleet vehicles should take consideration into moving the company fleet to electric. There are a wide range of electric vehicle options available from your typical run of the mill electric vehicle to off-road EVs, forklifts, mowers, tractors, school buses, and public transit.

If we work towards transforming how we fuel our transportation needs, electric vehicles could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions anywhere from 80 to 90% of current levels by 2050!

2. Installing Solar Panels

The second way to reduce your carbon footprint is to harness the suns energy by installing solar panels. What’s cool about solar energy is that it’s completely renewable and one of the cleanest sources of energy out there.

The best part about shrinking your carbon footprint with solar energy is the reduction for demand of fossil fuels and less greenhouse gas emissions are produced. By going solar, users can eliminate the same amount of carbon emissions that would result from burning over 5,000 pounds of coal each year.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) also found that widespread adoption of solar energy can significantly reduce nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter emissions.

Solar energy is becoming one of the fastest growing sources of sustainable energy. According to the International Energy Agency, “solar and wind energy account for almost 10% of total electricity generation.” The U.S. is now the third largest market in the world for solar energy. 23.6 gigawatts of solar were installed in the U.S. in 2021. The United States receives so much solar energy that an array of solar panels in the Mojave Desert could generate a year’s worth of our energy needs in a single day.

In fact, solar power will account for almost half of United States’ new electricity generation this year. At the beginning of 2022, The U.S. Energy Information Administration expected solar generating capacity to grow by 21.5 gigawatts, which would surpass last year’s 15.5 gigawatts of solar capacity additions, with many of these additions in Texas (6.1 gigawatts, or 28% of the national total).

Not only is solar energy great for the environment, but it’s beneficial to its users too! Solar energy is the most affordable source of energy in the world and the coast of solar panels has dropped by 80% since 2008. In December 2016, the cost of building and installing new solar electricity generation dropped to $1.65 per watt; it’s renewable counterpart—wind—was $1.66/watt.

Aside from solar energy being extremely affordable, there are also incentives to switch to solar power. Users can receive 30% system costs back from equipment and installation as a federal income tax credit, along with receiving Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) by selling any excess energy produced to utility companies.

In order to reach our goal in 2050 set out by the Paris Agreement, almost 90% of global electricity generation needs to come from renewable sources, with solar PV and wind together accounting for nearly 70%.

 

Now that we’ve covered the first two ways you and your company can decrease your ecological impact, come back Saturday for the second portion of this post! I’ll be detailing three and four in how to quickly reduce your company’s carbon footprint!

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out to SUNTEX directly if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

Read More

Check Out Utah’s Energy Profile

Utah

In addition to the large, majestic rocky mountains and valleys throughout the state, not to mention the beautiful ranches and pastures everywhere, I was very excited to see a few large-scale solar farms during my time in Utah. Looking at the climate, which is certainly consistent with what we experienced, it’s not hard to see why (check out the following to see what I mean: https://www.visitutah.com/plan-your-trip/weather). There is plenty of sunshine in Utah, and while the temperature may fluctuate greatly throughout the year, or even throughout the day, because humidity is low, the climate can be fairly arid.

From the sound of it, and by the appearance of it, solar energy should be pretty wide-spread in Utah, right? Well, they’re certainly improving in the area of bio fuels anyway – check out the full report from Energy.gov, here: https://energy.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/Utahs-Energy-Landscape-5th-Edition.pdf. According to the report, “Renewable energy has historically been dominated by hydroelectric power, but geothermal and wind have grown in significance over the past two decades. Nearly 1 gigawatt of utility-scale solar was built in 2015 and 2016, more capacity than hydroelectric, geothermal, and wind combined, creating a large spike in renewable energy production in recent years (but still only enough to increase renewables’ share from about 2% to 6%).”

For like comparisons from previous state energy profile blogs however (Texas, https://suntexllc.com/3673-2/; New Mexico; Colorado), let’s also check out the following link and see what we can find: https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=UT:

  • “Utah accounts for 1 in every 10 barrels of crude oil produced in the Rocky Mountain region. The state’s five oil refineries, all located in the Salt Lake City area, can process nearly 200,000 barrels of crude oil per calendar day.”
  • “In 2020, 61% of Utah’s electricity net generation came from coal-fired power plants, down from 75% five years earlier, while natural gas-fired and solar power generation increased.”
  • “Utah’s per capita energy consumption in the residential sector is the third-lowest among the states, after Hawaii and California.”

Utah

Looking at the full picture, it seems as though Utah has a pretty healthy energy system, particularly given their lower demand for energy overall in comparison with the other 49 U.S. states, and has rapidly begun to increase the use of renewable energy sources. Given the state’s particular climate, and wide-open mountain views, it’s easy to see that while they’re not the large drivers of climate change, we would be remiss not to consider the land here a vital environment worth protecting. As for me, I can’t wait to go back and see it someday in the near future! Feel free to add your favorite destinations in Utah in the comments below.

Read More

On the Road Again…Next Stop, Climate Change

Utah

Now, I’ve only been to Utah a handful of times – once when I was moving to Seattle in my twenties, and this time during our road trip, when going back to visit family – but I have to say, the views are honestly unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen. The red-rocky oasis with mountains, steep plateaus, desert flora and fauna is truly breathtaking, and I would recommend a trip to Utah at least once in your lifetime to truly expand your imagination.

We stopped a few times along the road, even though we were short on time, because we just couldn’t wait to take in the views any longer. Check out what I mean in the photos featured below – Benny and Earl of course scared us to death with their fearless trips to the edge of the mountains, but thankfully we wall survived, and got a nice lunch in too. Utah

We were tempted to stop in Moab on the way to Salt Lake City, and check out the infamous Arches National Park (https://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm), but tragically, we decided to visit another day when the sky wasn’t filled with smoke from the wildfires in the West.

While I have not so far, nor will I focus much time on the impacts of climate change that changed this journey today from the one we took just a few years ago – traversing the same path – it would be imprudent not to spend some time discussing it here.

Utah

In each state we saw after leaving New Mexico (in order: Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, and then back to Colorado), there was at least some part of our journey that was shrouded by smoke-filled skies. Yes, America, we have a “smoke” season now, and it occurs in the west from June-August. This is certainly not to say that this problem was uniquely curated by the states they occur in, however it is happening with more frequency and devastation each year (https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-wildfires).

It’s fair to also note here that we also saw evidence of wildfires that were deemed ‘good’ and were a naturally reoccurring phenomenon of Yellowstone National Park, helping to re-grow the forest and diversify plant life each year (check out more about this process here: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/fire.htm). However given the statistics on naturally occurring vs man-made fires, I think it’s a fair assumption that the smoke we saw was from near-by fires in California and Montana. A quote I found particularly interesting was this one, from the National Geographic website:

Climate Change

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/wildfires

UtahThe reason I mention this here, was that we agreed we should probably come back to visit Moab (I mean seriously, check it out: https://www.discovermoab.com/) on another National Parks tour in the future – perhaps in June – when we can visit our friends in California and hit up little-known areas like Yosemite National Park (https://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm), Joshua Tree National Park (https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm), or Tahoe National Forest (https://www.fs.usda.gov/tahoe). Of course, the much larger and scarier implication is that we also need to do everything we can to tackle the major problem that is climate change, which is undeniably hitting our shores. Climate change, more than any other factor, is my main drive in learning about solar, however I am in strong support of any type of energy-saving and/or greenhouse-gas-emission-reducing technique used! This doesn’t imply perfection, simply a reduction in the amount or type of energy we consume, and while that may be a scary concept to some, the really clever and creative among us have already started to develop smarter ways to thrive. All we have to do, is install it.

Read More

Travel Prep: Preparing for Home Repairs

Given our tendencies towards a more nomadic lifestyle, when we moved into our first home back in 2018, I made my husband promise me we wouldn’t sell it for at least 10 years. The market has fluctuated wildly since then, and even though we’ve mulled over the idea of renting it out from time to time, we are still just really grateful to have a place we call home. We have come to love our neighborhood haunts, and have made some good friends here as well.

As you might have guessed however, there are still a few things we would like to change about the place, and have even done a few DIY projects to get some practice. The first thing we changed about the home were the doors — there were several that opened into a room, drastically cutting down the space by almost half. We knew that if we put sliding barn doors in the main bedroom we would gain tons of space in our bathroom and closet; we also decided on a glass door that opened outwards from the kitchen, instead of the solid brown door that open inward originally. While we did a pretty good job for beginners, it was clear there were a few details we were desperately lacking in our construction projects, and we had waited over a year to finish them!

The next item I was desperate to change on our home was the outdoor paint, and if you take a look at the picture below, I think it’s easy to see why.

House: Before

When we first moved into the home, I remember asking the inspector what type of energy qualifications homes needed to meet in order to be ready for sale. He nearly laughed, and simply said, “None?” Since our house was built in the early 2000s, there wasn’t anything too outdated to be a major red flag, however we knew the thin window panes might not hold up for much longer. We had been gathering quotes for some time, however after the winter freeze when our windows started to fog up on a sunny day, we knew it was time: we needed to replace our windows.

Windows: Before

The final and likely most significant piece to all of the changes we wanted to make to the home was adding gutters. If you’ve ever been in Texas during a rainstorm, you know just how quickly a light rain can turn into a flash flood, and our home had started to show some of the tell-tale signs of the rain. See photos below for greater detail, however we had water stains on the brick in the front where water would flow off of the rooftop, and the foundation for the back yard porch had started to move slightly — something we were told would continue to happen with the heavy rains each spring. In order to protect our house, we knew it was time to add gutters — and of course I knew just who to call to help me out.

With just a few phone calls, a down payment on the project, and some carefully coordinated planning, we hired SUNTEX to help us out with all of the repairs.

 

Read More

Energy Preparedness: Does your house miss you when you’re gone?

Even though my mind is consumed by the possibility of seeing bears, moose, and geese (oh my!) very soon, there is still plenty to do to prepare our house for being vacant for at least a short time while we’re away. Lucky for us, we’ll have some very dear friends of ours staying in our home for the first few weeks, but after that it will be left to the demise of August and the ravaging heat that ensues at this time of year. Since I’m sure I’m not alone in this activity, I’ve created a short list of what to do when you’re leaving your home for an extended time, and want to make sure you don’t come home to a giant energy bill!

To reduce your energy usage inside the home while you’re gone, you can:

  • Close the curtains and blinds (if you have plants, make sure to leave the blinds open slightly so they’re still getting plenty of sunlight while you’re gone)
  • Seal up any large cracks or crevices in your door-ways with a towel or blanket for some added insulation
  • Turn your thermostat to 78+ degrees (or off, if you’re not concerned about plants or humidity levels indoors)
  • Close all of your doors inside, and make sure you turn off all overhead lights/fans
  • Unplug any devices you won’t need access to while you’re gone (except for your refrigerator since your food will spoil while you’re gone, even if you don’t open it!)
  • Don’t forget to lock up!

Summer TravelAs for outdoor plants, your approach can vary based on 1) how much you’re willing to spend on an irrigation system, 2) how friendly your neighbor’s kid is, or 3) how many plants you’re willing to replace if needed. We tend to be pretty laissez faire when it comes to our lawn — long story short, we use a local ground-cover that requires very little water to survive: horse herb, so we are okay just letting it bake under the Texas sun while we’re gone. Of course if you have a lawn full of grass you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to water it, and if so, how much. There are tons of garden watering timer systems you can buy online, or at your local hardware store, so just be sure to set it up a week before you leave so you can test it out before you go. We do however also have a few plants that like a lot of sunlight, but may not fair so well under 8+ hours of Texas sun. Since these plants are potted, and are often indoors during the winter months, we can either move them inside to a southern-facing window and hope for the best, or we can set up watering timers for those plants as well (see garden irrigation systems online, or ask your local hardware store rep for details). I generally opt for the cheaper, and more sustainable option — and so far replacing my very temperamental gardenia each year is winning out, though I fear that won’t be true for too much longer. The rest of the yard should be just fine since we were careful to only plant native, drought-resistant species in the back yard, and while I’ll miss my tomato plants while we’re in the woods, I know they’re going to love that August sunshine until we get home!

There are plenty of additional blogs to check out on this subject that contain some useful tips on summer travel, so don’t take my word for it — check out Toucan Smart Home to hear what they have to say as well: https://toucansmarthome.com/blogs/news/home-security-tips-summer-traveling.

Read More

Energy Preparedness: Summer Travel

One of my favorite things about traveling — besides the views and the food, of course — is learning about local weather patterns. Perhaps this seems dull, but I’ve been surprised on more than one occasion by the weather, and in the worst case scenarios, it can be quite uncomfortable to say the least. A funny example of this was when I visited the Oregon coast a few years ago for Independence Day weekend. My husband and our dog, Benny, packed up the car and drove to the beach for the weekend! Naturally, as I was going to the beach in the summer-time, I packed all of the beach-essentials: two swim suits, breezy cover-ups, a couple of maxi dresses, and some flip flops — only to find once we got there that I couldn’t wear anything I packed. It was freezing cold! The only people that were in the water (all 2 of them or so), were in full-length wet suits, and most people just hung out on the sand all day long. I don’t believe the temperature rose above the sixties (Fahrenheit), and it’s safe to say I was lucky there were stores open in town where I could buy sweat pants and fleece jackets. While I was a little disheartened that we wouldn’t be doing any swimming this trip, the entire thing felt like a great adventure — and certainly a learning experience. Word to the wise: check the weather before you go!

This year, since we’re planning to go camping all over the country, diversity in packing will be crucial to surviving the trip. One thing we learned while researching the National Parks websites was that almost none of these areas allow open-pit fires anymore. There might be another time during the year when this is more feasible, but with the August fires from Colorado to Montana, we won’t be taking any chances. Instead, we read that only propane-fueled stove-tops are allowed — and since some of the areas we’ll be staying in might be 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night, it’s important we don’t forget the fuel!

Now that we’ve got clothing and cooking in any condition out of the way, another important part of planning ahead for the trip will be deciding which tools to bring to set up our campsite and really enjoy the outdoors. One of my personal favorites includes our solar-powered flashlight and usb charger. Even though a full day of sunshine isn’t always guaranteed, generally these flashlights will last us days and days, and can charge fairly quickly in the early morning sunlight. Even though I usually go to bed pretty early when camping, they’re certainly nice to have out during dinner, or on trips to the restroom and back. Mostly we use them to illuminate our card or domino games, but no matter what you use it for I would always recommend having at least two flashlights on-hand when camping (and extra batteries as well). Then, all we have to pack is the bedding and the tent and we’re all set! Just two more weeks before we’re off — please add your favorite camping hacks in the comments section — since you never can have too many survival tips.

Read More

Energy Preparedness: Summer Edition

Summer Travel  Summer is a fantastic time to escape the rigor of daily activity. You can go to any number of lakes to swim or jet-ski, head to the beach to build sandcastles and catch waves — or for the really adventurous spirit, you can even go camping or hiking in the great outdoors! This year, my husband and I have decided to take a month-long road trip, camping along the way, in order to explore all that this beautiful country has to offer! Or, at least we’ll get to see quite a bit of the West. We’re heading to Colorado first, then through Utah and Oregon and onto Seattle, Washington where we’ll get to see some family we haven’t seen in a while. Then, it’s off to Glacier National Park in Montana (https://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm), Custer Gallatin National Forest (https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/custergallatin/home), Yellowstone (https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm), the Gran Tetons (https://www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm), and finally back home!

While we’re both anxiously counting down the days until we’re sleeping under the stars and cooking s’mores, one huge reason we also decided to take this trip during August is to escape the August heat. Every year in Texas this seems to be our highest energy bill — no matter what we do to mitigate it.Glacier National Park

This is a common theme in August in Texas, as any Texas resident will tell you, however with the effects of climate change more prevalent now than ever before in our life times, and with more and more people moving to this great state every day, the peak energy demand season is sky-rocketing. It’s no wonder that as the heat index moves above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, people want to escape inside an air-conditioned building as quickly as possible — but what people don’t realize is that the short spurt of increased demand must be managed by Grid operators — similar to the reports we read in February during the winter storm. Just take a look at what the Texas Tribune reported about summer energy outages this past June: https://www.texastribune.org/2021/06/19/texas-power-grid-ercot/. The good news is that because we’re in Texas, engineers have designed these systems to withstand the heat (so it’s very likely that you won’t have any of the natural gas plants freeze up during this time of the year like we saw this past winter), however any time there is increased demand on the energy Grid, the additional loads must be managed. This week, we’ll explore what to do if your power is interrupted or even goes out during the hottest days on record — and hopefully you live near a body of water if so! For those of you with solar + battery storage, you can tune out for now.

Read More

“Right to Capture State” – Part 2 of 2

Right to Capture: SolarSo, now that you’ve got your rainwater storage system set up from yesterday — great job on that by the way (!) — you’re ready to move on to step #2 in taking advantage of the ‘Right to Capture’ state laws, at least as they apply to solar energy. I preach to friends and family to ‘go solar’ if and when they can, because I genuinely believe in taking advantage of laws.

Alright! All joking aside, I believe in the product, and believe that the cost is well worth the benefits gained in installing solar panels on your rooftop. Because I work for a solar company, I’m inherently biased, sure, however that also implies at least a fair amount of insight into the companies that can deliver for you, and to be honest there are quite a few all over Texas to choose from.

Right to Capture, The Skinny:

You can “Go Solar,” as we say in the industry, for $0 down — however the system itself is costly, and you’ll want to make sure you have access to the online portal immediately following the installation, just in case some squirrels chew through the wiring and you need to call your installer to come out and take a look. If you have at least a 600 credit score, there are several finance companies you can likely choose from, and will ideally reduce your energy bill in the process. I say ideally here because energy usage is really the driving factor in a high energy bill (though, you will likely still need to pay administrative and/or energy transmission costs to your local energy provider). If you turn off all of your electricity, lights, unplug anything that has constant energy power — from digital clocks to refrigerators — and only use a gas-powered stove to heat your food when needed, you would expect to see a pretty low bill, right?

Well, the same administrative and energy transmission costs apply even to those with a residential solar system, even if your system covers 100% of your energy needs. Particularly in the summer months, or roughly April-September in Texas, it’s easy to “offset” your energy usage with solar energy from your southern-facing rooftop solar system; in the winter, it’s a slightly different story. For this reason, it’s unfeasible to make the switch to solar energy 100% without battery-storage or a generator — or simply by connecting to a grid with a highly technical management system, but why does this occur during the winter months? Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems produce less energy in the winter for one very simple reason: the days are shorter, and thus there is less sunlight to absorb (at least in the northern hemisphere, and the southern hemisphere would be just the opposite).

Residential Solar, The Rub: (more…)

Read More

Solar Industry Insights –The Ugly: Solar Scammers

It’s never fun to feel like you got the bad end of a deal. Solar, when done correctly, is cost-efficient and saves you money. The install process should take roughly two (for experienced installers with no delays or odd tile configurations) to four (for newer companies, or complicated project layouts) months to complete – from signing the contract, to installation and interconnection (exception: see Houston city limits which has a longer PTO time-frame than other Texas cities). Anything outside of this, is either an exception or a scam. Unfortunately, scammers don’t always tell you when they’re planning to scam you, and mistakes do happen, but here are a few things to look out for: 1) how does the salesperson act during your consultation? What can they tell you about other solar companies in the area – and how do they compare? Are they making promises you know they can’t keep (example: some utilities have a monthly interconnection fee for connecting to the grid, so if you’re promised a 100% bill offset, you should consider how your utility company operates to see whether this is feasible – even though solar absolutely can and will save customers money – in most cases, a 100% bill swap is not a reasonable expectation). What do they know about the installation process? Perhaps they’re new and still learning the operations side of the business, but a good solar company will ensure that their staff is willing and able to answer questions about a solar install, because it will take time and will require your signature along the way (see HOA approvals, as one example). If you’re left feeling confident that they’re able to answer your questions, have good examples of their companies’ market differentiation, and can answer some basic questions about the installation process (or at least are willing/able to look into it and get you a quick answer back), then chances are – you’re in good hands!  

What do you do however when you’ve met with the recommended minimum of three companies, all of which had similar pricing and panel efficiency, and you’re still not sure who to choose? Of course you should check out their online reviews, their website, BBB profile, etcetera – but you can also just try calling their main line. Who answers? How long does it take to get a call back if no one is available? These are fantastic indicators of a good company because it will give you insight into being their customer – if they don’t get back to you now, chances are they’re going to take their time answering your questions even after you sign on the dotted line, which could have implications about how they operate behind the scenes.

Beware of copy cats! Recently we had an issue with a customer, who said they had hired SUNTEX to install their project however it wasn’t us! Unfortunately given the nature of this industry, this happens more often than you’d think – and I’ve already experienced it at at least two solar companies I’ve worked with in the past two years. Copy cats hurt our business, hurt our industry, and most importantly, hurt our customers, so it’s absolutely something we try to avoid whenever possible. The best way to mitigate this, is to simply explain the differences in our two companies and continue to provide excellent customer service to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace for our customers. If you come across one of these companies, please do your due diligence before purchasing a system! Solar companies that are worth their salt will be communicative – and it’s no lie to admit they will compete for your business – but they will also understand that you need to explore all of your options before signing up, and be willing to answer your questions before you do! Have questions for us, give us a call today and test it out for yourself!

Translate »