Solar energy and wind power are terms that have been around for a long time. You may have fond memories of running as a child, holding tight to your colorful pinwheel and watching it spin faster with every gust of wind. Perhaps you remember using a magnifying glass to burn blades of grass or unsuspecting insects. Little did you know, you were a mini-scientist, harnessing wind and solar power for your entertainment. This post applies to all facets of the housing industry and commercial sector.
Nowadays, with the environment and climate change on our minds, we look to science to solve our energy problems. The sun and wind are renewable energy sources that can positively impact our environment. They can be much more cost-effective than traditional non-renewable energy. There are ground-breaking solutions being brought to the market every year and that got us thinking: How “new” are these energy solutions? So we did a little research, and here’s what we found.
Wind Energy – A Brief History
When we think of wind energy, most of us think of windmills in the Netherlands (at least we do). However, as early as 5000 B.C., wind was being used to propel boats along the Nile River. There’s a question as to when and who invented the windmill, however. The first recorded windmills originated in Persia around 500-900 B.C., but windmills may have been used in China much earlier than that. That’s up for debate.
Windmills were precursors to steam engines before the industrial revolution. They were used to power sawmills, water pumps, and used to process spices and tobacco among other things. Once electric power was developed, wind turbines were used to provide lighting for buildings from a centrally located power generator. Throughout the years, interest in wind energy has waxed and waned, usually due to the price of oil.
Solar Energy – A Peek Through the Archives
Unlike wind, which has been used extensively throughout history, solar power has not been as widely used. Many civilizations have designed and built dwellings that take advantage of the warmth of the sun, but not many inventions harnessed the sun’s energy to create power until fairly recently. In 1767, a Swiss physicist named Horace de Saussure invented the first solar oven, which uses only sunlight to heat meals or drinks. The design is still in use today in areas where electricity is limited.
Albert Einstein had a hand in modern solar energy as we know it. In 1905 he correctly theorized that light energy is carried in individual “packets”, or quanta. This, along with the discovery of electrons seven years earlier, gave scientists a better understanding of photo electricity. This eventually led to the development in 1954 of the first device that converted sunlight into electrical power. Of course, many others contributed to the invention of our modern solar panels, but you can read about them in the references we’ve provided below.
Why Does It Matter?
Forecasts show that renewable sources of energy will continue to grow in popularity and lower in costs. According to an article on EcoWatch.com: “A report from Dutch environment group Natuur en Milieu indicates that investing in household solar panels can result in the equivalent of a 13 percent gain on the investment over a 25-year period (the estimated optimal lifespan for such a device) against a 4.5 percent long-term savings rate over the same period.” This is promising for all businesses, but particularly for industries with long-term investments in real-estate.
But What If My Real Estate Asset Is Older?
Actually, that gives you even more reason to make your home or asset more energy-efficient. So much energy is lost in older buildings because of the simple fact that…well…they’re old. Insulating and sealing attics as well as replacing drafty doors and windows will go a long way to giving your older building a new life.
Looking into alternative energy sources is also a way to go. The up-front costs may be a bit frightening, but it’s an investment well worth investigating. Besides a federal tax incentive for installing solar panels on a personal residence, many states and local governments offer incentives and tax-breaks that make it well worthwhile and may cut down the up-front costs. You may be surprised how much you can save when you start digging.
How Does It Help With Curb Appeal?
Alternative energy sources often come with bulky items that some consider to be eyesores. There are a few things to consider when it comes to curb appeal. First, there are many new alternatives on the market now that are much more appealing. Items such as solar shingles and transparent solar cells that in the very near future will be marketed and sold as solar windows. Then there are other alternatives to solar such as geothermal, hydropower, and even hybrid systems that include both solar and wind.
Second, what you may see as an eyesore may be extremely appealing to someone who is environmentally conscious. Millennials in particular are extremely interested in doing business with companies who have sustainability practices. This article on BusinessInsider.com discusses findings from focus groups they conducted: “Millennials also said they are drawn to brands that reflect their deeply held personal values: “I like to think forward. For me, sustainability trumps convenience.” This is a consideration not to be ignored, since millennials are becoming more and more of a voice, not only in what consumers want, but in what they expect and demand from lawmakers.
Whether your business is large or small, investing in renewable energy sources makes sense, not only in the long-term, but can save you money even now by lowering your energy costs. Renewable energy sources are worth investigating, not only for the future of the planet, but for the future of your company. Solar energy installations are already becoming part of the mainstream conversation for real estate assets. Where will wind energy solutions go? The future is yet to be determined but can you foresee a time when inconspicuous wind turbines will be on the top of apartment or commercial buildings? Technology continues to leap forward to convert solar and wind energy into power on a much more efficient level.
Southern Energy Solutions is your industry partner for sustainable solutions for the real estate industry. Our company is positioned to be in the forefront as sustainable technology solutions continue to take center stage for new development and refurbished properties. Contact us today for a consultation.