Here comes the sun, and clearer skies.

solar panelsSolar panel installations grew 76 percent in the U.S. from 2011 to 2012, and it’s no mystery why: every hour the sun radiates onto earth enough energy to power the planet for more than a year. Rapidly falling prices, greater gains in efficiency and government tax incentives make using solar power feasible for many in the Kansas City region.

Use solar energy affordably and help keep our skies clear by:

  • Starting a solar cooperative. Home owners can save money on solar panels by purchasing and installing panels in bulk with their neighbors. For those without space for panels, some cooperatives allow participants to purchase panels together off site. See examples of both in DC and Colorado.
  • Exploring solar purchase power agreements. Purchase electricity from a developer who builds, maintains and operates a solar array on your roof. This electricity can be cheaper than current electricity costs, and it won’t run out in the future. For more information, visit the EPA’s website.
  • Using available tax credits. Governments want to reward those who install solar energy systems and fight air pollution. Both Kansas and Missouri have tax breaks for solar installations. See what is available in your state at DSIRE.
  • Cooking with a solar cooker. Using small mirrors, solar cookers can get up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They work at any outdoor temperature as long as there is sun, and will cook nearly any dish. See solar cooking in action here.

Want more super solar facts? Check out this infographic from Lemon.ly.

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