Are Solar Energy Savings Affected by the Changing Seasons?

The changing seasons have more of an effect on your energy needs than on the solar panels addressing them. While it’s reasonable to predict a lower efficiency rate from solar panels in the winter, it’s really the sun itself—and less so the weather conditions on the ground—governing how well solar paneling powers your home and helps you save on your utility bills. A cloudy day is likely to have a bigger impact on your solar panels’ photovoltaic cells than subzero temperatures, and still neither condition completely deteriorates the effectiveness of your solar panel systems.

A local and experienced contractor will know the region’s seasons as well as how they specifically affect the local weather, the incoming sunlight, and what that means to your home. A reliable contractor will visit your house and assess its strong points—as well as its weak points—to give you the best roadmap toward outfitting your property with solar panels for your home.

At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Solar Panels in Winter: Perception Costs More than Precipitation

One of the top reasons most home improvement projects, including solar panel installation, are started and completed during the spring or fall seasons is the steadily rising utility bill.

Homeowners watch those numbers climb and are in turn spurred into action. In California, for example, electricity usage is about 50 percent higher in the summer than in the winter, according to the LA Times. That increased demand means some expensive months for homeowners still relying completely on the electric grid for air conditioning, among other uses. And take early 2019’s extreme weather conditions as another example: The deep cold in the Midwest crippled utility companies so much so that some governments urged consumers to lower their thermostats, as did utility companies themselves.

Surely, this experience had some homeowners researching solar paneling for homes. And if it didn’t, it should have. True: Less sun time means less solar energy, but your home doesn’t need as much energy in the winter, either. During extreme conditions, the sun can still shine and still power solar panels.

Take it from Solar Energy Technologies Office Director Charlie Gay, who stated in a Department of Energy blog that solar panel systems “actually produce useful power throughout all four seasons.” In fact, he noted, the DOE’s Regional Test Centers—in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Florida, and Vermont—assess specific weather-related challenges for solar paneling.

“Researchers at the test centers have shown that solar can still successfully generate electricity in snowy areas and other harsh environments,” Gay wrote.

Additionally, according to the New York Times, “snow typically melts right off the panels, especially if the panels are tilted.” That’s not to say heavy snow is negligible, but it’s certainly manageable.

A trustworthy solar paneling installer should be able to explain to you how the climate in your region—and various weather conditions—will affect your solar panels in winter, in summer, spring and fall. Contractors are also skilled at making sure your home remains comfortable throughout the installation, an especially pertinent need during both colder and hotter months.

Solar Panels in Winter: Take It from the Westlakes

Rodney Westlake and his daughter climb mountains, In 2017, the duo got stuck while climbing the Alaskan Denali—or McKinley—Mountain, the highest peak in North America.

The conditions Midwesterners dealt with in early 2019’s winter storm “were similar to what the Westlakes felt at the high base camp,” according to the Chicago Tribune, “where they were tent-bound several days because of high winds followed by 6 inches of snow.”

“Up there it was definitely this cold,” Westlake told the Tribune, adding that he and his daughter found refuge in tents that captured “solar energy like a greenhouse,” the article reads. “It’s not so bad as long as you have the right gear,” Westlake summarized.

Snow, extreme cold, bad weather conditions—none of this stopped solar panels from heating and enlivening the Westlakes. The solar panel systems that you’re installing through a certified and professional contractor will of course yield much larger results and be able to sustain immeasurably heavier winter climate conditions. When in doubt, consult your contractor on the challenges your house might encounter and how to approach.

In many cases, Westlake has it just right: Having the right gear makes all the difference, and your local contractor knows what is right for your home and solar panels in winter.

Solar Panels in Climate Extremes: Better To Prepare Than To Panic

A home improvement project during the high season will likely impact your estimate and project timeline. During warmer months, contractors and supplies are in high demand— you’re not the only one noticing a high electric bill. Contractors are less likely to offer discounts during peak times. To save money on solar panels for your home, consider scheduling your project during the cooler months.

Your long-term savings will remain similar, but incentives and seasonal promotions are never a guarantee, and likewise never guaranteed to last. For example, the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation (that’s hard and soft costs combined), is phasing out its value over the next several years. By 2022, that 30-percent figure drops to 10 percent, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Additionally, homeowners could be subject to state requirements making solar energy a mandatory source of power for new houses—for now, though, only Californians have to worry about that. On Dec. 2018, California lawmakers voted “to require homes built in 2020 and later be solar-powered,” according to the LA Times. That law doesn’t concern itself with what month homeowners install their solar paneling in because it doesn’t matter—savings are year-round, year-long, and annually significant. With an uncertain future of incentives and a present reality of high competition and ample rebates, the best season to install solar panels is now—no matter when you read this.

Solar Panels in Snow: How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

Since solar panels completely covered in snow would have a difficult time accessing sunlight, most are designed, constructed, and installed in such a way to avoid ever being completely submerged. A trustworthy contractor will identify the most efficient tilt, positioning, location, and height of your solar panel system to guarantee their maximum output and subsequently the highest possible savings on your utility bill.

Before determining what kind of and how many solar panels you want, it’s good to understand the type and amount of solar energy present at your location. Various public resources are at your disposal to do just that. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, for example, created a map showing the concentration of sunlight radiation across southwestern states like California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. How red is your region?

Another more specific example comes from a UC-Berkely National Laboratory team. On an annual basis, the researchers determined, panels were only affected with a 20-percent decrease at peak shade. Want to know more about your own location and its irradiance properties? Use the Department of Energy’s calculator tool, which asks you for your address and spits out the solar energy you can expect.

A local contractor will be able to explain what you should expect in terms of energy and how you can expect it to increase the value of your home, not to mention what kind of panels you will benefit the most from, and where they should get installed.

The post Are Solar Energy Savings Affected by the Changing Seasons? appeared first on Modernize.

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This Company Offers Life Insurance That Actually Responds to Your Changing Needs

Pop quiz time. What do you think about when you think about buying life insurance?

Time’s up! Did you think of pushy salespeople? Or maybe your mind went to the dreaded thought of getting locked into a 20-year policy that isn’t right for you even five years down the road.

Your life is constantly changing, and that’s a good thing. What you really want is life insurance that can change along with you.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, an independent resource for information on all things insurance, 44% of consumers overestimate the cost of life insurance, and more than half of them say they’d get it if they could just get it priced without a physical exam.

If you think you’re ready for a term life insurance plan to help protect your family, check out Ladder. You’ll find that you can get life insurance that is easy to get and easy to change when your life takes a new path.

My Life Changes. What About My Policy?

One of the hardest parts about choosing a life insurance policy is trying to figure out just what kind of policy is the best fit for you and your life. What if you sign a 15-year policy and your life situation changes?

People get married, buy houses, have kids and then, eventually, those kids move out and do their own thing.

Ladder gets it. Your life is dynamic, and your life insurance coverage should be able to change with it. That’s why it offers flexible coverage.

Sign up for the coverage you need, but when your life takes a new path, Ladder lets you add more or even reduce your coverage without dealing with high-pressure agents or even tedious paperwork.

Back up — What Is Term Life Insurance?

Simply put, term life insurance is a life insurance policy that pays out a benefit upon the death of the policy holder. The policy is purchased for a certain term, for example 10 or 20 years, and the policy holder can choose to renew their policy once it expires.

The biggest determining factors in the cost of a term life insurance policy are the amount of coverage (the amount left to the family) and the age, gender and health of the person insured.

The primary benefit is the ability to leave money for loved ones for things like funeral and living expenses.

For example, imagine a man who is 35 years old, married and has two kids. He may choose to purchase term life insurance. If he should die unexpectedly, the insurance policy would leave a predetermined amount of money to his wife and kids to help pay funeral costs. It would also help them get by without his income, so they could continue to pay their bills, stay in their home and continue their education.

Keep Life Simple

You can use Ladder’s coverage calculator to figure out how much coverage you should have. Then your online application only takes a few steps:

  • Take about five minutes to answer a few questions about your life and health, such as your income.
  • You’ll get an instant decision on coverage, and there’s no risk. You won’t even have to go get a full physical. Some simple lab work might be required, but that’s easy, right?
  • You’ll need to enter your driver’s license and social security number, which is true for any life insurance application. The company needs this information to verify your identity and prevent fraud,. It uses a secure website and will not sell your private information.
  • You’ll pay no policy fees, and you can cancel anytime. You even get a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Your life is full of changes. Make sure your life insurance can change with you.

Life can be hard, and making decisions about it can seem even harder. Ladder makes life insurance easy to get and easy to change.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Changing Hearts: Persona 5 and My JRPG Journey

As a kid, I played my fair share of Pokémon, enthralled by the wonderful designs and charming world. The games still hold a special place in my heart. Yet as I grew older, I realized that my love for Charizard had been veiling my disdain for turn-based combat. I tried again and again to get back into the series to no avail, instead turning to more action-oriented games like God of War and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

I gave other JRPGs a shot over the years, — the legendary Chrono Trigger among them — and each time, I seemed to find turn-based gameplay even more of a chore. I knew I was missing out on some of gaming’s finest adventures, making matters worse. I consider myself a patient and open-minded person, so why was I so impatient and close-minded toward an entire genre? That’s when Persona 5 (P5) entered my life.

My Homie


joker ren protagonist ryuji sakamoto persona 5 playstation exclusive phantom thieves
Nothing and no one gets between these two.

My stepbrother, who comes over every other weekend, owns an Xbox. He thought P5 seemed incredible, but it’s a PlayStation exclusive. I have a PlayStation. See where I’m going with this?

When he started the game, I decided to watch — a bit of brotherly bonding, something we could enjoy together while everyone else was asleep. In the back of my mind, I also figured that if I liked the game enough… but no. It was a JRPG. And sure enough, neither of us were raving about P5′s first few hours. (“Where’s the f—ing Ginza line?!”)

But as he mastered the intricate balance between the protagonist‘s daily life and fight for a better world, my stepbrother’s growing enthusiasm for P5 infected me. I wanted to hang with Ryuji more than once every other weekend, to date Makoto instead of Futaba, to take the hearts of society’s scum with my own hands. There was just the issue of turn-based combat…

Beneath the Mask


persona 5 joker ren protagonist phantom thieves mask off playstation exclusive
“Please don’t take off my mask — my place to hide.”

… which I got over faster than you can say, “For real?!” It’s still not my preferred way to play, but that didn’t matter because what P5 gets right, it gets right. The soundtrack is a fusion of musical genres that keeps your adrenaline pumping as often as it has you in tears. The aesthetics are vibrant, fluid, and stylish, as effective in establishing the tone as anything else. The world is as full of wonder and disappointment as our own — and as alive, in that sense.

And the characters … the Phantom Thieves. Befriending them one by one, understanding what motivates them, setting aside time to spend with them — wasn’t this stuff reserved for real life? Fighting alongside them against the corrupt adults who serve as P5‘s villains was engaging in its own way, but learning who they all were beneath the mask was an experience like no other. This was the element that I’d been looking for in JRPGs but never found: personal attachment.

Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There


ophilia tressa alfyn olberic primrose h'annit cyrus therion octopath traveler nintendo switch jrpg turn based combat
If you don’t wake up, get up, get out there, you’ll never meet people like this!

I don’t know that any JRPG — any game, really — can truly replicate the feelings P5 spawned in me. It was the first JRPG I played through to completion and an amazing game in its own right. And yet, when it was over, I knew I wanted more; nearly 100 hours of life in Tokyo‘s Shibuya ward had convinced me of that. I was okay with turn-based combat now, but was that enough for me to enjoy other JRPGs? In short, yes.

My next JRPG adventure came in the form of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (which my stepbrother also played first), my first foray into the storied Fire Emblem franchise. I love me some swords and sorcery, so it wasn’t hard to get into, though its map battles proved a much different beast than P5‘s enemy encounters. Accepting that it wouldn’t impact me as much as P5 was the real battle, but I won that one, too.

Today, I’m keeping up the streak with Octopath Traveler, a JRPG with combat akin to P5‘s and a world not unlike that of Shadows of Valentia‘s. Over 50 hours in, I dig it more and more every second I play, in love with the characters and music. It’s simple, really: it’s a good game — JRPG or not, turn-based combat or not. Just like P5.

New Beginning


ann takamaki ryuji sakamoto futaba sakura ren amamiya joker protagonist haru okumura yusuke kitagawa makoto niijima persona 5 phantom thieves playstation exclusive
Thanks, everyone.

I don’t know what JRPG will come my way next, but thanks to P5, I know I’ll embrace it as wholeheartedly as any other game I’d normally play. Before P5, maybe I wasn’t as patient and open-minded as I thought I was. Who knew that that’d be a lesson that a video game taught me? I won’t get preachy or anything, but I will say this: don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know what — or who — you might find. For real.

(And … yes. For those wondering, all the headings in this article are the names of P5 songs. I may or may not have been listening to the soundtrack while writing this.)

5 Games to Fill the ‘Persona 5’-Shaped Hole in Your Heart

5 Role-Playing Games That Deserve A Remake

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