It may sound weird. Most people believe in the common misconception that solar panels generate heat. That’s actually not accurate, as solar panels absorb heat while they convert abundant sunlight into energy. This means that all the sunlight once beaming on your roof is now blocked. Your roof is now shaded and protected from sunlight, making your roof cooler and lessening the amount of heat in your home.
Your attic is considered an “unconditioned” space, which means the elements control its temperature. You are not paying to heat or cool it, so you are not paying to “condition” it. However, this unconditioned space’s temperature does impact the conditioned part of your home that you do pay to heat and cool with your HVAC system. By the solar panels keeping the unconditioned space in your attic cooler than usual, it means your HVAC will not work as hard to cool everything down. How? Science!
Science of the Matter
Heat travels through materials due to the heat transfer method called conduction. Once in an open space, it transfers through the process known as convection. HVAC systems and construction materials operate with these two principles to maintain the temperature in your home. By the unconditioned area in your home being cooler, there is less heat to penetrate your home’s building envelope.
Second, since your roof and attic area are now cooler, any excess heat in your home is free to travel up and out. Remember, heat always transfers from hot to cold. The cooler temperatures will act as a magnet for the excess heat, leaving your home cooler and your HVAC system not working as hard.
Proof in the Research
Now that science class is over, here are some research points to back us up. You save money all around because the panels produce energy, and your home now needs less energy to be cooled. Therefore, you save money by increasing your home’s total energy efficiency.
Second, according to a UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering study, solar panels reduced the amount of heat absorbed by your roof by 38%. This decrease equates to your roof being five degrees cooler than other portions exposed to sunlight directly. The researchers determined that equates to an additional 5% discount on your solar system due to the reduction in energy needed to cool your home.
Science and math are coming together to save you money. Let us be the ones to get you set up and saving money!