How Can Solar Energy Make San Francisco A Better Place to Live?

golden gate

Let’s face the facts; San Francisco is a pretty great place to live. It is frequently noted for being one of the best places in America to live because the residents are always so happy. The residents are known for being pretty laid back and accepting. However, like all other places or things in life, there is always room for improvement. Solar energy in San Francisco can help to make the city an even better place to live in. Here’s how:

  1. Residents will be healthier. One of the top benefits of switching to solar energy is that it is “green.” This means it is a cleaner alternative to more traditional forms of energy that residents may currently use to power their homes. Solar energy is green in the fact that it doesn’t use as much energy as other resources and it also does not give off any emissions. With solar power, there is no harmful air pollution. If more residents would switch to solar energy, the air would be much cleaner which could help improve San Francisco residents’ overall health.
  2. It will be a cheaper place to live. Solar energy may seem expensive at first, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. In as little as seven years or less, residents will see solar energy completely pay for itself. Once this happens, it will be straight sav
    ings from then on. You will see savings in the thousands each year on your electric bill. With the lower cost of energy, businesses will be able to afford to lower the cost of other products too. Simply put, there will be much more money to go around, making San Francisco an overall cheaper place to live.
  3. It will be a more peaceful place to be. Solar energy is very reliable and easy to maintain and residents and business owners who use solar energy won’t have to worry about frequent maintenance or repairs like they may have to with other forms of roofing or power sources. This alone will cause residents to be less stressed. As previously mentioned, overall costs of living will decrease due to lower electric bills. Less stress means better mental health and a better, more positive attitude. What could be more peaceful than that?

San Francisco is pretty great as it is. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how this amazing city could possibly become even better. However, with the use of solar energy, you’ll see that even San Francisco has the potential to become an even greater place to live by making it healthier, cheaper, and more peaceful.

4 Ways to Make Your Home Greener

People living in the San Francisco area are well known for their eco-friendly lifestyles. The community has been a progressive force for years and, when it comes to green living, it’s only getting better! But maybe you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet. Perhaps you were worried about the cost or you simply had other home improvements that were a priority. Whatever the reason for your hesitation, you’re now thinking about making a big green move. But what should you do? Here are some ideas for large projects that will seriously increase your home’s efficiency.

solar panels

1.  Install Solar Panels – This is one of the most well-known ways to go green, and for good reason! After all, most of your other home improvement projects don’t come with government incentives or rebates. Plus, how many of those other upgrades ever result in a negative balance on your energy bill? With solar panels, you’ll pay a bit upfront, but some of that cost will be mitigated by the incentives, and the rest will pay for itself when you don’t have to spend money on powering your home. In fact, if your panels generate more energy than you actually need, the power company will owe you credit that can be put toward later bills. In other words, you may never have to pay for power again!

2.  South-Facing Windows & Overhangs – Did you know that the size and placement of your windows will have a big impact on how much natural light and heat is let into your home? Some of the most dedicated homeowners have taken advantage of the natural winter light by installing larger, south-facing windows in their homes to absorb the rays. This cuts the amount of energy that you’ll need to heat the home when it’s cooler out. But wait, won’t that make it crazy hot in summer? By installing an overhang to block these same windows during the summer when the sun is higher, you can keep the house cool.

3.  Invest in water-saving appliances – Obviously, heating and cooling are not the only things you need to worry about when creating an eco-friendly abode. Water consumption is also a really big issue, especially since we are still facing a drought. By investing in water-saving appliances, such as low-flow faucets and showerheads, high-efficiency washing machines, and water efficient toilets, you can waste less of this precious resource and have lower water bills to boot!

4.  Plant a Living Roof – Have some flat-ish roof space and looking for something unique that will set your home apart from all the rest and make it greener? A living roof is one of the newest eco-trends to hit the environmental community. This roof will usually be covered with grasses, shrubs or other ground covers that will create more oxygen and beautify your home. If you are planning to put up solar panels, too, don’t worry! The panels can be placed on the ground just by your house or you can simply limit the amount of space dedicated to your living roof. Remember, you’ll need to check with your township first and then consult an architect or contractor to ensure that your roof will withstand the weight of the soil and plants. Also, remember to look for drought-tolerant ground covers so that you won’t have to devote extra water to the roof.

What other green measures are you considering for your home? If you live in the Marin area and are interested in solar power, give us a call today at Sun First Solar! We can provide you with an estimate and get you on the road to energy-efficiency in no time!

Green Energy, Saving More than Just Money

The growth of solar energy and wind energy has been the subject of many headlines lately.  The cost of solar cells has decreased drastically recently, partly due to growing demand and China’s entrance into the manufacturing sector of solar cells.  Their efficiency has improved, too, making the amount of electricity produced enough to completely power a household and, now, with the introduction of the Tesla home battery it appears as though excess energy will be storable so owners have electricity even on rainy days.  Green energy provides more than just reduced energy costs though.

The electricity generated from coal and natural gas plants emits pollution which have been linked to heart attacks, cancer, breathing problems and other health issues.  These dire effects on our health and environment are extremely costly. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists we are spending somewhere between $361.7 and $886.5 billion to deal with the “aggregate national economic impact”.  This means 2.5%-6% of our GDP every year is spent on dealing with issues which are preventable.  This type of economic loss is damaging to our society and the effect can cause ripples that grow as we go through time.  One only has to look at China’s current situation with pollution to see how terrifying it can become.

Man Installing Solar Panels

In cities, like San Francisco where there is little in the way of shade blocking roofs, solar power is perfect for generating lots of clean electricity.  Solar and wind energy also have the benefit of not causing water pollution which is becoming a growing problem across the entire world.  California is suffering from a historic drought and the amount of drinkable water across the world is being consumed at an alarming rate.  If we aren’t careful in how we manage our consumption of natural resources it will have serious economic consequences in the future.

Another benefit to the new green energy business is the creation of thousands of sustainable jobs.  Unlike fossil fuel production which is more capital intensive and requires fewer laborers; renewable energy jobs are labor intensive and longer lasting.  Wind energy employed 75,000 people full-time in 2011 alone.  As solar and wind energy installations continue to grow they will produce more full time jobs that are reliable and stable.  Something our economy and people in our country desperately need.  So when you’re considering installing solar panels, realize that not only are you saving money, but you’re helping the economy as a whole and your environment.

Lighting up the Country

Did you know that the amount of solar energy being produced in the U.S. has been more than doubling over the last few years.  The boom for solar energy has finally hit us and while at the end of 2014 it only produced .46% of electricity for the entire U.S. that is a lot compared to where it was just a few short years ago.  A number of economic and political changes have made solar power go from seemingly unachievable dream to a very graspable reality.  As these changes continue to manifest and technology continues to improve it seems the sky really is the limit.

The economic factor that is making prices cheaper in the solar market is the introduction of Chinese manufacturing.  Their ability to produce solar panels at a more affordable rate and on such a large scale has made everything cheaper.  In 2005 a home solar system was roughly $40,000-$50,000 which was a lot, but by 2013 the price was roughly $20,000.  A far more palatable price tag and one which is easier to pay off in energy savings a lot quicker.  The various state governments and federal government have also jumped in by offering tax deductibles and other incentives for people installing solar panels on their building.

panel and sun

A lot of major cities, such as San Francisco, have pushed for more solar power and other methods for becoming greener over the last decade too.  The increasing costs of energy and other issues are driving governments and people to find savings while protecting the environment.  Solar power happens to be one of the best ways available currently.  The technology for solar panels has also been improving with time making them more efficient per square foot.  As technology continues to improve at a quadratic scale the question now seems to be when will we have the breakthrough that jumps solar panels to absurd efficiency levels.

If you’re someone who wants to gain more independence from the power company and the slow grinding increase of their electricity costs then solar power may be the right answer for you.  The prices don’t keep going up just because the cost of natural gas or other resources do and you get to save the environment in the process.  If you’re a business there is the benefit of also using your newly installed solar panels as a marketing technique to attract environmentally conscience customers.  Don’t let the power of the sun go to waste, harness it and make it work for you.


Solar Could Meet Major California Energy Needs

Renewable energy provides substantial environmental and economic benefits. Renewable energy produces no greenhouse gas emissions and is generated from sources that restore themselves. Solar energy, in particular, has a much lower impact on the environment than conventional power sources.

solar panels in San Francisco area

The bottom line is that renewable energy benefits the entire population.

You may have already seen this in action, but on a much smaller scale. Some hand-held calculators are equipped with solar cells, which never need battery replacements as long as there is sufficient light.

Now imagine this on a much larger scale and you’ll begin to see the possibilities. It’s not surprising that home installations of solar panels are rapidly expanding across the United States and other parts of the world. This trend will only continue as manufacturing costs decrease and demand for energy increases.

Some of the advantages of solar power include the following:

  •   Reduced electricity bills – Solar panels save on utility costs, which means a lower energy bill each month. Initial costs may be slightly higher, but you’ll save a great deal more in the long term. In addition, there are many tax breaks and incentives that will go toward your initial setup expenses, minimizing the amount that you pay upfront.
  •   Credit for extra energy – The California Solar Initiative means that you can actually get cash back for excess electricity that is generated from your panels. Many other states offer similar incentives, so check to see if you qualify!
  •   Higher property values – Solar energy is an investment that ultimately pays off. The advantages go beyond savings on your electricity bill, as solar panels can even increase the value of your property when it comes time to sell.
  •   Lower your carbon footprint – Solar is renewable and sustainable. Installations don’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants into the environment, which reduces your carbon footprint.

Solar energy in San Francisco and other parts of California pays huge dividends that ultimately contribute to a cleaner environment.

How Solar Could Meet Energy Demand

Demand for energy is on the rise due to economic output and improved living conditions. This is expected to have a large effect on the environment, as a majority of the demand would be met with fossil fuels. As a result, energy prices will continue to increase for consumers around the world.

Combating the major energy issues that are currently facing California starts with renewable energy. A recent mandate requires that all major utilities derive 33% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. The amount was previously 20% before Governor Brown signed a new law that increased the percentage. This is certainly a step in the right direction, but how can California meet the new requirement?

A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change found that the energy generated from solar equipment on existing infrastructure could meet the state’s demand five times over. Residential and commercial properties are an excellent opportunity for power generation through installations of photovoltaic systems. Other locations described in the study include urban parks and degraded lands.

The study demonstrates that it is possible to meet increasing energy demands in the state using solar power without adversely affecting the environment or moving installations to remote locations.

If you are wondering how else solar power could benefit you, call or contact us at Sun First Solar. We’re here to answer all of your questions and help you get started with renewable energy.

Can Solar Energy Really Power My Home?

image of bay area home with solar panels

In the Bay Area, solar power has long been touted as the energy of the future. But how does solar power measure up, and can you really power your home with nothing but solar panels? Here at Sun First Solar, we’re here to inform you about the capabilities and benefits of solar power – and we’re in a good position to know about it!

Solar power is a formidable technology that has advanced rapidly over the past few decades. Solar panels are now highly effective, and more homes than ever are using them to help meet their power needs and to reduce their energy costs. And of course, solar is also one of the most earth-friendly ways to get the energy you need.

Solar panels can indeed be used to power homes; however, most solar homes only use solar to offset their electricity “off the grid.” In other words, they get part of their electricity from the solar panels and they get the rest from the power company like anybody else. There are several reasons that people use solar this way, but the most common is limited roof space.

This “partial solar” approach can be hugely beneficial. It means that a giant percentage of your electricity is coming from the sun for free, dramatically reducing your power bills. And installing solar, even just for partial energy offset, qualifies you for numerous tax credits and rebates, making it easy for partial solar to pay for itself and save you money over time. It helps that solar panels are long-lasting, require little to no maintenance, and often come with a 25-year warranty. Many solar panels will continue to deliver power for up to 40 years.

Some homes can indeed achieve 100% energy independence using solar power. This depends on the size of the home and its energy usage, the amount of sunny roof space available, and location. An increasing number of solar homes around the Bay Area have gone completely “off the grid.”

Others prefer to take a simpler approach and just use the panels for extras like their swimming pool. Solar panels are an easy way to heat the water in your pool without the added expense. This will make having the pool less of an excessive luxury and more of an affordable way to stay cool and relax.

These are some of the basic ways that solar can be set up to help homeowners achieve lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint. Solar can do the same thing for businesses and can also be configured in many customized ways for individual households and situations.

Why are you thinking of switching to solar? Call or contact us at Sun First Solar for an analysis or to answer any questions!

Advantages of Going Solar in San Francisco

san francisco homes powered by solar energy

Like most of the country, energy prices in San Francisco are only going upwards. However, people in San Francisco have an advantage that most cities do not—the area is home to some of the best, most experienced solar energy companies in the U.S. Accordingly, solar energy in San Francisco is on the rise, as more and more people take advantage of the free, abundant energy of the sun.

However, there are still many home and business owners who are hesitant about solar energy. Is the technology proven? How long will the solar panels last? Will it really save me money? These are just a few of the questions people face as they consider solar power. Fortunately, at Sun First Solar, we’ve got answers—and we think you’ll see that solar power offers serious advantages. Ready? Here are the basics:

Solar power is ideal for both home and business use – Gone are the days when solar panels came in a one-size-fits-all approach. Solar energy options in San Francisco include specialized larger scale business setups as well as custom arrays for houses of any size.

Special solar setups can heat your pool – Some people prefer simpler uses for solar power. Low-cost solar arrays can be used to heat your swimming pool, saving you big money on energy costs.

Solar panels have a long lifespan – Solar power has matured as a technology, and solar installations now last longer than ever—in fact, they outlive most major household upgrades and renovations. Solar panels at the low end have a 25+ year life expectancy. Most include a 25 year warranty and many have expected lifespans of 30, 35 or even 40 years. Little to no maintenance is needed during this time period, making solar one of the easiest ways to save energy.

Solar energy saves money – For a typical single-family home, the energy savings that comes from your solar panels will offset the install cost within 6-8 years. Given the 25+ year lifespan of the setup, you will absolutely end up saving substantial money in the long run. Plus, there are numerous tax credits and rebates available for green energy both at the San Francisco city level and at the state and federal levels. These can substantially reduce the number of years it takes to recoup setup costs.

These are just a few of the many advantages of going solar. What has gotten you interested in solar energy? Call or contact us at Sun First Solar today with any questions or to arrange for a free site analysis!

Understanding the Effects of Solar Energy

The multiple societies of our nation are constantly on the move. As the years go by studies show that American citizens are staying up longer, using more electronic devices, and burning more non-renewable resources. At this rate, our supply of known resources won’t remain affordable beyond the next two generations. While it might seem like a far-off issue, signs are already making themselves apparent in large states – such as Texas and California. The rising cost of energy is just one example, but through the use of solar power, this inflation can be deterred before it grows out of hand.


Marin, California is one of the best examples of locations where citizens have taken an active role in preventing a dismal future. Since 1984, solar power provider Sun First! has installed thousands of converter panels in homes, offices, and industrial parks. As one of the largest providers of solar power, our experts have exclusive access and pricing to the top products on the market reserved for very select dealers. This means we can provide environmentally friendly solutions at a price that facilitates the shift from fossil fuel dependency. With multiple options available, we offer quality products fit to work with any size system and budget in Marin and the surrounding area.

Today, over 40% of the total energy consumption on the west coast comes from the sun. While undoubtedly a stunning amount, it is hopefully only the beginning of a world that is swiftly losing its nonrenewable resources. Before long we will no longer be able to use coal, gas, and other fossil fuels, but with each new solar panel installation in Marin we get closer to preventing that tragedy.

Why 2014 is Solar Energy’s Biggest Year Yet: And Why It Matters

While solar panel systems have been a staple of alternative energy for decades, the industry has experienced impressive strides in 2014 that indicate solar energy will gain increased prominence and influence as a mainstream source of energy.  In fact, according to some experts, as a result of this growth the United States is now approximately only six years away from its capacity to meet one hundred percent of our energy needs through the use of solar panels.

At SunFirst!, a San Francisco solar energy company servicing the Bay Area, we’ve recapped solar energy’s gains for 2014 thus far, and note why we think it’s time we all stood behind this booming industry.

Impressive Growth


In 2014, solar energy demand and usage continues to grow at unprecedented levels. An early September report out of San Francisco from Market Watch stated that solar energy across the country is up 21 percent from measurements made at this time last year, due to a significant increase in installations. By year’s end, developers will install 6.5 gigawatts of solar panels, which is 36 percent more than last year and an impressive three times higher than what was seen three years ago.  The nation’s total capacity for solar power will soon reach 16 gigawatts, which will be able to give power to over three million homes.

Gains in Domestic Policy

In preparation for the National Climate Summit at the UN General Assembly, on Thursday, September 18th the Obama Administration unveiled over 50 new efforts to support solar and wind energies across the nation. In total, $68 million dollars have been allocated to developing these two non-polluting energies, with aims to develop 240 solar energy fields in rural areas. This fall the government also responded to the need for more skilled solar workers by launching a pilot job training program for veterans.

Costs Lower Than Ever

Solar energy has decreased in cost as it has increased in popularity, and in 2014, solar energy panels are cheaper than ever. In fact, costs are now 50% of what they were just five years ago. Solar panels are so cost effective that industry experts are encouraging homeowners and businesses to own solar panels to gain maximum efficiency rather than lease solar energy systems, as many do currently. The upswing of innovative financing options for solar panels has further made full ownership increasingly appealing.  In many areas it’s definitively cheaper to rely on solar panel energy than traditional energies for electricity. What’s more, if a homeowner or business chooses to purchase a solar panel system rather than lease, once it’s paid in full, those monthly energy bills are gone for good.

New Applications

Increased public and private valuing of solar energy has resulted in some innovative applications of solar panel systems this year, including the installation of a solar panel field at a closed landfill in Rutland, Vermont. The landfill served as a perfect location for a solar panel system, as its contaminated soil made it unusable for future development, yet its location from the heart of town made it ideal for a large energy system. With an estimated 100,000 closed landfills across the country, we hope others will catch on to this clever and valuable use of land.

In addition, this year new control systems were released to offer companies up-to-the-second information as to the quantities of solar energy used and created to enhance business operational intelligence, such as improving sales and services to customers. This in-depth analysis of a solar energy system has been well-received by businesses and consumers thus far and looks to figure prominently in the future.

Why It Matters: Take Your Stake

Given the progress made in the solar energy industry in 2014, now is the time for homeowners and businesses to truly invest in solar energy in San Francisco. Why?

  • Solar energy systems are more affordable to install than ever; we can’t predict costs for the future, but we do know that today solar panels are at their lowest prices (97% less!) since the early 1980’s. Take advantage of the low costs while you can.
  • The industry itself is booming. In late August, Blackstone’s Vivant, a rooftop solar power producer, announced plans to offer $371 million dollar IPO later in the fall, yet another indication of the industry’s growth and continued profits.
  • Public funding. Public policy initiatives in 2014 are clear indications of the industry’s heightened support and stability. We see little risk in investing in an energy system that continues to gain mainstream attention and government backing.
  • With over 2400 solar installations and over 15 megawatts of solar generation capacity, San Francisco is one of the country’s leading cities for solar power. Help our city preserve this title!

SunFirst! specializes in residential and commercial systems; at SunFirst! we provide full service design and installation of solar panels, handling all aspects of solar panel projects. In addition, we’ll be happy to service customers for diagnostic, repair, and maintenance services. Let SunFirst! help your home or business in San Francisco adopt the more affordable, eco-friendly energy option of solar energy. Contact us here today!

Use of Solar Panels Rising in U.S., Numbers Expected to Increase

Despite being initially viewed as an expensive novelty, solar panels have become popular with homeowners in recent years. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, nearly 450,000 homes and businesses now have solar panels installed. Also, a 29 percent rise in solar installations in the U.S. is predicted by the end of the current year alone.

Homeowners can Expect Government Incentives & Lower Electric Bills

A few of the reasons for the upswing in solar panel appeal are the federal and state incentives, as well as energy-efficiency. As the government pushes for clean, renewable power, homeowners can receive rebates and tax credits for installing solar panels, which will drastically cut the initial costs. Couple that with the fact that the cost of solar panels has decreased by more than 50 percent since 2010 and they drastically reduce your energy bills, and there are a lot of reasons to invest.

Homeowners are Looking for Homes that are Solar Panel Ready

Because of their benefits, the demand for homes with solar panels is rising. Current and soon-to-be homeowners are shopping for new and existing homes that have solar panels already installed.

Also, home appraisers are including solar panels in their assessments. In other words, installing solar panels in your home now will increase its value, in addition to helping you save on electric bills.

Image of Marin solar panels

While there are many benefits to installing solar panels on your Marin home, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you invest in it:

*  Have realistic price expectations Before you install solar panels, determine the expenses that you have to cover so that you can plan ahead. Start by calculating how much energy your household uses now and will in the future. For instance, if your family is growing you can expect costs to rise; if your children are about to leave for college, costs will probably fall. Remember that you may still have to pay monthly electric bills, depending on how much power your solar panels produce. And don’t forget about the cost of the solar panels and installation themselves.

*  Know the length of the warrantyThis is important because the amount of time the warranty covers is the bare minimum of how long your solar panels should last. Solar panels can last anywhere from about 20-25 years (or more, if you’re lucky). The warranty should last long enough to pay for the panels themselves and make you a profit.

*  Consider the desired location for the panelsWhere you place the panels is important because you want them to have maximum exposure to light during the day. If possible, they should be installed so that they face the sun directly. The more lighting from the sun, the more energy they can produce.

If you are living in Marin and considering solar panels, call or contact us at Sun First! today. We can provide you with more information and get you started!