Snow on solar panels.

Are you wondering why our country should even consider an alternative energy source when we’ve relied on the power of fossil fuels for hundreds of years, those used to make the coal, oil and gas that powers cars, factories and homes?

These fuels meet the needs of most of the energy consumption throughout the world.

So what’s the big deal, you ask. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, several negative consequences result from the burning of fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels releases extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — a 25% increase over the past 150 years. This destabilizes an already delicate balance resulting in global temperature changes.

These changes affect sea levels and climate patterns, wreaking havoc on economies and ecosystems around the world. Other gases produced from burning fossil fuels combine with chemicals in the atmosphere, result in harmful side effects, such as acid rain and smog that are both damaging to infrastructure, the environment and the human body.

In addition to harmful side effects, fossil fuels are a nonrenewable resource. Created by the decomposition of animal remains from long ago, fossil fuels are mined from the earth in ever-increasing amounts, with demand projected to soon exceed supply. Millions of years must pass before decomposing plant and animal life can replenish the stores of fossil fuels that are being mined today.

Harnessing the power of the sun

With rising concerns about availability and the side effects of burning fossil fuels for energy, many homeowners have turned their attention to the sun for power. Experts at Penn State Extension explain the main types of solar energy systems employed by alternative energy companies today — active and passive solar energy systems. Active solar systems, such as photovoltaic systems, use mechanical means to collect and store power.

Photovoltaic systems utilize the movement of electrons that achieve an excited state when struck by the sun’s rays. The electrons’ movement translates into energy. Most photovoltaic systems use silicon panels to catch the sun’s rays during the day, storing it for later use when the sun goes down. Solar-powered calculators have long used the power of photovoltaic systems to operate.

Benefits of going solar

You can take advantage of the sun’s power by installing solar panels on your home. Through solar leases and solar PPA’s you can obtain an efficient solar power producing system for your home for little to zero down. When you choose to go solar with Sunrun, you only pay for the solar power, not the solar panels, so you can save 20% on your electricity bill.

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