Solar panels don’t just power your AC on blisteringly hot summer days – they also take over some of the AC’s work themselves. This is according to a study from researchers at the University of California at San Diego, which says that rooftop solar panels not only produce emissions-free electricity, but also cool roofs and buildings to which they are attached. This lowers cooling costs, and offers an additional benefit of going solar.
The idea is simple: when sunlight hits your house it warms your roof and pushes heat into your home. Installing solar panels will block this sunlight from hitting your roof, thereby preventing heat from entering your house. The researchers found that solar panels can lower a roof’s temperature by 5 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 3 degrees Celsius. This can significantly reduce cooling costs over the life of the solar panels. In fact, the researchers determined that the savings from reduced cooling amount to a 5 percent discount on the solar panels’ price.
The researchers also discovered that solar panels prevent heat from escaping during the night when it is cooler. This lowers heating costs in the winter and increases the financial returns of the panels. However, the heating benefits of solar panels may not be as pronounced as the cooling benefits. The panels do, after all, reduce the natural heat of your home during the day.
Overall, the takeaway from this study is clear: solar doesn’t just save money by generating emissions-free electricity. Solar also saves money by increasing a building’s total energy efficiency. Admittedly, there are more efficient ways to reduce your heating and cooling costs, but only solar can increase energy efficiency and produce most or all of a building’s electricity needs. Add these benefits together, and going solar starts looking even brighter.