Rooftop solar is good for wildlife, the climate and people.
By installing solar panels where you live or work, participating in a community solar project or advocating for solar-access rights, you're supporting a wildlife-friendly, clean energy source. Unlike fossil fuels and even many large-scale renewable energy sources, photovoltaic solar panels generate virtually no greenhouse gas emissions, require almost no water use, and can be placed on top of existing infrastructure so they don't have to contribute to habitat loss — making rooftop and other forms of distributed solar the best energy source for the environment and wildlife.
If you're interested in installing rooftop solar panels, you're in luck: It's now easier and more affordable than ever. Prices have dropped 50 percent in the past 5 years, and this trend is expected to continue.
Depending on where you live, free tools are available to assess your home or business for its suitability for rooftop solar and potential savings:
Enter your address on Google's Project Sunroof page to get a personalized roof analysis that includes the amount of sunlight you get per year, which parts of your house get the most sun, how much room you have for solar panels, and how much money you could save by going solar. It will also point you to nearby solar companies for more information on installation options. The downside to this service is that it's only available in select areas for now, so check your location for coverage.
Much like Project Sunroof, the Mapdwell Project can assess your home's solar potential using satellite imagery. What makes this program special is the fact that it also looks at citywide data to help municipalities determine their best options for going solar. This option is also only available in select areas for now, but will continue to expand.
Like Project Sunroof and Mapdwell, Geostellar measures your rooftop's solar potential based on satellite maps and estimates financial benefits you might gain based on your electricity bills. Geostellar also lets you compare products to determine the payback of a system and find applicable incentive programs to help pay for installation.
EnergySage is a solar marketplace that allows you to learn about your options for going solar and to shop for a solar energy system without having to share your contact information with installers. With EnergySage, you get online solar quotes from pre-screened providers in order to clearly compare your options to ensure you get the right system, installer and price. EnergySage is funded by the US Department of Energy and owned, in part, by the MA Clean Energy Center.
You can also check out the Center for Biological Diversity's Go Solar partnership with Sungevity — if you choose to install solar panels with Sungevity, you can save $750 on your installation and another $750 will be donated to the Center for Biological Diversity.