Google Develops Project to Help Homeowners Interested in Solar Power

Project Sunroof uses aerial mapping to calculate the solar energy potential of users' roofs

Google Develops Project to Help Homeowners Interested in Solar Power
Image: Pexels
August 8, 2016

North Carolina is well into the dog days of summer, and that means one thing: the cost of electricity in most homes has gone up.

According to the North Carolina State Energy Report, in 2007 electricity accounted for the highest percentage of energy use in residences with a total of 63%, with 44% of energy dedicated to heating and cooling the residence.

Translation: homeowners use most of their energy to heat and cool their house, and they use electricity more than any other form of energy. And in summer, they use most of it to cool down, which in turn makes the price go up.

"The price of electricity is higher during summer daytime, on-peak hours, and declines in the evening or on weekends during off-peak hours," the report explains. "Prices also typically vary by season, with summer prices typically higher than winter prices."

This means that homeowners will typically look for any possible means of lowering their electric bill.

Enter Google.

Project Sunroof is an online tool designed to help homeowners decide whether or not to harness solar energy to help power their homes. The tool uses the same high-resolution aerial mapping as Google Earth, but for a very different purpose: calculating the solar energy potential of a homeowner's roof.

Project Sunroof is straightforward and easy to use: just enter your address and the tool takes it from there.

"It first figures out how much sunlight hits your rooftop throughout the year, taking into account factors like roof orientation, shade from trees and nearby buildings, and local weather patterns," the site explains. "You can also enter your typical electric bill amount to customize the results. The tool then combines all this information to estimate the amount you could potentially save with solar panels, and it can help connect you with local solar providers."

At that point, it becomes the homeowner's decision whether or not to pursue solar power for their home.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), there is enough solar energy installed in North Carolina to power 245,000 homes. In 2014 the North Carolina Solar Center, now known as the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, estimated that solar systems may be able to save North Carolina homeowners up to $10,955 over 25 years.