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How to solar power your home to lower your carbon footprint

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BBright sun illuminated the roof of Richard and Sheila Miller’s Golden Valley house as workers passed solar panels up scaffolding.

TruNorth Solar was busy assembling the family’s second array, replacing one installed about 10 years ago after a storm damaged their roof.

“It was a pretty fast payback, and to me, it’s just kind of a no-brainer,” Richard Miller said in early April. “It’s pretty clear that we need to do something to stop burning our fossil fuels, and this is one way for us personally to do some of that.”

The Millers are one example of Minnesotans taking part in solar energy as a way to care for the environment while potentially saving some money. They chose to install their own solar panels, but there are other options as well — including community solar gardens and paying extra on your monthly bill to support solar programs — to fit other budgets and lifestyles.


On this Earth Day, the Star Tribune offers a guide to the many ways you can take action today to reduce your carbon footprint.

While Minnesota’s electric grid is relying less on fossil fuels every year as utilities march toward a carbon-free system by 2040, more people choosing climate-conscious options can help add more clean power now.

But finding the option that works for you can take some research. It also usually depends on your goals and personal financial situation, said Carmen Carruthers, outreach director for the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota.

“Those two things tend to drive the initial decisionmaking,” she said.

Here’s what you need to know about adding more solar power to your life.

Up on the rooftop

If saving money is your primary reason for going solar, installing a rooftop array could be the best choice.

Carruthers said that, depending on your utility, it presents the greatest opportunity for long-term energy savings because after you pay for the panels, “what you’re generating and using is basically free.”

There are hurdles, however. One is the upfront cost.

TruNorth President Marty…

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2024-04-17 17:16:30

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