Friday, December 9, 2016

Do Solar Panels Work in Winter?

Solar panels do work in the winter. That’s because solar energy is created by sunlight, not heat. So even though it may get cold and rainy in the central valley, as long as there's sunlight, solar panels will produce energy. It’s important that solar panels are built to endure these seasonal changes so they continue to perform well in the winter. 

How Solar Panels Capture the Winter Sun

Since solar panels rely on sunlight, when the days are shorter, your solar system will produce less energy. It’s beneficial, then, to have a system calibrated to efficiently capture the most sun.
SunPower solar systems are designed for maximum efficiency, which means they can produce more electricity even in low-light conditions. Using high-quality, anti-reflective glass, SunPower panels trap light from all angles, capturing more sunlight than conventional panels1. This helps your solar system make energy throughout a winter’s day, from sun up to sun down and even on cloudy days.

Solar Can Stand Up to Tough Weather

From super storms to ice sheets to a shifting polar vortex, winter can also bring extreme weather. While those conditions can make it challenging for solar systems to produce energy, SunPower has had 30 years to perfect its technology to withstand the elements.
Product testing is something that SunPower takes seriously. Rated No. 1 in durability in third-party testing2, no other home solar technology stands up to the elements better than SunPower even in the most the most challenging conditions: snow, extreme temperatures and 90 mph hurricane-force winds. That’s one of the reasons SunPower solar technology was chosen for NASA’s GROVER exploration of the polar ice cap in Greenland.
SunPower solar systems are designed to work seamlessly and comprehensively in all seasons. Very little maintenance is required, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your energy production and look for irregularities. Don’t hesitate to have your system looked contact us at (559-432-1500) if you have questions. We’re so confident in SunPowers product durability and year-round performance that our systems are backed by an industry-leading 25-year Combined Power and Product Warranty.
Don’t have a home solar system yet? Contact us to find out how you save with  SunPower from Energy House.

Related posts

Monday, December 5, 2016

5 Q&As When Considering Adding A Fireplace to Your Home

About half of the 40 million homes constructed in the U.S. since 1973 were built without a fireplace, and yet consumer study after homebuyer survey indicate that the majority of people want one and are willing to pay extra to have it.
For homeowners considering adding a fireplace to their existing home, here are answers to the key questions you need to ask to determine if a fireplace is right for you.
1. Is It Possible?
With the variety of fireplace options available today, from traditional wood-burning masonry to wall-mounted ventless units, it would be difficult to imagine a situation in which it would be entirely impossible to add a fireplace of some sort.
That being said, local interpretations and enforcement of building codes may dictate details such as the chimney height, the construction of the firebox and flue, minimum clearances around vent pipes, and limits on fireplace emissions—all of which narrows your choices. You’ll need to check with your city or county building department, many of which have current code information online.

There’s also the question of fuel: If you’ve got the space to safely store stacks of wood (not against the house—a fire hazard—but within convenient proximity) or an existing source of natural gas or propane, then you’ll increase your options.
2. How Much Will It Cost?
Costs for materials and labor to add a new fireplace can run from $3,000 to $5,000 plus install. An EPA-qualified wood-burning fireplace, which features doors with air-sealing gaskets to regulate how much indoor air it uses for combustion, therefore saving energy and reducing emissions, may cost upwards of $4,500 per unit. The installation and finishing costs of such units, however, is about the same as the natural gas fireplace.

When considering costs, also factor in on-going expenses, namely for fuel and maintenance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, natural gas is the least expensive utility-supplied heating fuel at a national average of $1.42 per therm (a measure of heating value), followed by heating oil and propane; electricity, meanwhile, is nearly twice the average cost per therm of natural gas. Utility rates vary by geographic region, so check with your local suppliers to accurately gauge those costs; your use of the fireplace will impact ongoing fuel expenses as well. 

If you have a readily available (and thus cheap) source of wood, ideally on your own property, it probably trumps the cost of any utility-supplied source. Wood and natural gas are by far the most popular fireplace fuels, combining for 83% of the market, according to the National Association of Homebuilders Research Center.

3. Will I Recoup My Up-Front Costs?
A fireplace generally isn’t calculated separately in a professional home appraisal, though real estate salespeople often consider it to be a hot button among potential buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors(r)’ 2007 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences, 46% of homebuyers said they would pay extra (a median of $1,220) for a house with at least one fireplace, the most popular “desired feature” in the survey. 
Still, says certified appraiser and real estate industry author Mark Rattermann, “Probably the best gauge is to look at the number of newly built homes with fireplaces” to measure whether homebuyers want and are willing to pay for them. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 53% of new homes built in 2008 included at least one fireplace. That’s down from a peak of 66% in 1990, though that drop-off may say more about builders trying to reduce costs than changes in consumer demand, as the latest NAHB consumer preferences survey found that 77% of homebuyers want a fireplace.
4. Where Will It Go?
If you’re thinking payback, put the new fireplace in the most-used room in the house (besides the kitchen). That’s usually the family room or great room. But if your goal is personal enjoyment or perhaps the more practical goal of space heating, the best place is where the unit best serves those purposes: to enhance the sitting area of the master bedroom, to heat an office or guest room at the far end of the forced-air system’s duct run, or for holiday ambiance in the lesser-used living room. 
And don’t forget the backyard: About 3 million outdoor fireplaces are installed every year, according to the Hearth Patio & Barbeque Association, as part of an overall trend toward more extensive outdoor living spaces. Expect to pay about the same for an outdoor unit, installed, as you would a comparable indoor fireplace, though don’t expect the outside unit to be an efficient heating source; rather, more so for ambiance.
5. Is a Fireplace Energy-Efficient?
It’s true that a traditional, wood-burning fireplace in a big, open room—while romantic and impressive to guests—is an energy hog by continually sucking conditioned indoor air for combustion and losing most of its heat up the chimney. But sealed units (including those that burn wood) have the mechanics, controls, and venting systems to use outdoor air for combustion, reduce thermal loss, and effectively supplement the home’s primary heating system. A fireplace used for “zoned” or small-area space heating can lessen the energy demand on the furnace and reduce utility bills by allowing you to turn down your thermostat when the fire is going. 
Theoretically, a series of well-placed and right-sized fireplaces might completely replace an existing home heating system. “A direct-vent gas fireplace is much more efficient as a per-room space-heating option than a traditional central forced-air system (using a furnace),” says Steve Frederickson, a fireplace installation expert and lecturer for Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Education Foundation. “It’s very wasteful keeping your whole house at 70 degrees all the time. If everyone used one of these fireplaces to heat just the rooms they use, when they use them, it would cut the residential heating load by 20%-25%.”

House Logic article written by Rich Binsacca

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What Is The Difference Between UVA and UVB Radiation?

UV radiation is part of electromagnetic light spectrum from the suns rays. There are three classifications for ultra violet (UV) radiation including UVA, UVB and UVC types and are distinguished by the length of their wavelengths.

UVC is a short- wavelength completely filtered by the atmosphere.

The medium wavelength, UVB has most of the light filtered by the atmosphere.  These rays are more prevalent in the summer months, but are still able to reflect from snow or water and are dangerous in higher altitudes.

The long wavelength, UVA does reach the Earth’s surface and accounts for 95 percent of the UV radiation. UVA rays are constantly present during the day, no matter the season, weather and can even penetrate through glass.

Just as there are full spectrum sunscreens to protect aging skin and skin cancer, there is also a full spectrum solar solution, which captures the total spectrum of light from the sun. This is made possible by full-spectrum photovoltaic material that converts energy from far ultraviolet to near infrared. Other solar panels do not process the full spectrum and ultraviolet and infrared are wasted as heat. SunPower has harnessed this technology and Energy House is proud to provide our customers with the best solar solution on the market.

UVA and UVB Rays: What’s The Difference? Goddess Garden Organics. Available from URL:

Ultraviolet radiation and the intersun programme. World Health Organization. Available from URL: