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Go Solar

Want to make your home or office more sustainable? Go solar!

Step 1: Make Your Building Energy Efficient.
It doesn’t make sense to pay to put solar on a building that wastes energy – solar energy is premium energy and you don’t want to waste it. For instance, if you install a solar PV system but your building has weak insulation or leaky doors, some of the clean energy your new system is producing will escape right out the window! If you want to save money on energy bills, start by improving the efficiency of your building. Learn more about energy efficiency at the DOE ENERGY STAR website.

Step 2: Consider Your Options.
Once your building is efficient, you’re ready to start looking at solar projects. Solar PV, solar hot water, and solar lighting can offset energy use in almost any building, but the best choice will depend on factors such as sun exposure, room layout, budget, and occupant preferences. For example, a sunny, south-facing roof is ideal for solar PV or hot water panels, while a shaded roof is better suited for options such as solar tubes for an effective, low-cost way to reduce electric lighting inside. Learn more about different solar technologies here

Step 3: Hire a Solar Installer to Assess Your Solar Potential.
Most solar projects need an area that has minimal shading throughout the day and year. Here in Knoxville, the ideal placement for solar installations is on unshaded, south-facing roofs. You can easily check out the potential of your building for solar. Does a large part of your roof face south? Are there trees, buildings, or other objects that cause a lot of shading? Once you’ve found a suitable location, contract a solar installer certified through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) to do a professional study and find the very best spot for solar.

Step 4: Finance Your Project.
Although prices have decreased dramatically in recent years, solar – particularly solar PV – can still be expensive. Fortunately, there are several programs available that can reduce the cost. To find current financial incentives, check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Of interest:
  • The federal government currently offers a tax credit for qualified solar PV systems and solar water heaters. Learn more here.
  • If you want to tie your solar PV system into the electrical grid, TVA’s Dispersed Power Production Program will buy the electricity you generate for a price higher than what you pay for the electricity you used. Learn more here

Decide that solar isn’t right for you? There are still plenty of ways to support clean energy. Our electric utility, Knoxville Utility Board, offers several programs for residential and business customers to power their homes and businesses through renewable energy. Learn more here.