If you've found yourself in the kitchen more than usual during the past year, you're not alone. About 40% of American adults report that they are cooking more since the coronavirus struck, according to the U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2020 report. Demand for online food content and recipes has soared, and without lengthy commutes or social engagements, many adults have more time to experiment in the kitchen and make more of their own meals.
1. Freeze leftover herbs.<div id="b5acf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="35ceec3c11404d6d839ab2db0c2e7a24"><blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"> </div></div><p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B-vYQpkpY3h/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top"></a></p> </div></blockquote></div><p>If you find yourself with more fresh herbs than you can use, they don't have to slowly wilt in the fridge until they're beyond help: rosemary, thyme, cilantro, sage, basil, or whatever else you have on hand can be <a href="https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/how-to-freeze-herbs-for-long-term-storage-article" target="_blank">frozen for future use</a>.</p><p>Make sure to thoroughly wash and dry the herbs, and prepare them the way you normally would before eating (stems removed, spoiled pieces discarded, etc.). Finely chop and press into each "cube" of an ice tray. Top them off with olive oil and freeze. Once solid, the cubes can be removed from the tray and stored in a freezer bag.</p><p>The cubes can be tossed directly into a pan for sautéing vegetables, or melted to dress a salad.</p><p>Even fresh ginger can be frozen – either shaved and stored in ice trays for individual servings, or peeled and frozen whole to be grated as needed.</p>
2. Save leftover lemon peels for a homemade cleaning solution.<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY2MTkzMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjI2NTI5MH0.QM1D5-3OG9c_BC7ybLaMzyNrbjzaafIalEdmH9Sk7B0/img.jpg?width=980" id="ceb1a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e00a837264e09d8033ea5275f9f42dc9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2520" data-height="1472" />
Pexels<p><span>If you use a lot of lemons for cooking or beverages, repurpose the rinds for an </span><a href="https://toriavey.com/home-garden/natural-all-purpose-homemade-citrus-cleanser/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">easy, organic surface cleaner.</a></p><p>After squeezing lemons for use, collect the rinds in a clean glass jar in the fridge, packing them tightly. Make sure to remove any stickers and thoroughly wash the lemons beforehand. Once full of peels, fill the jar with vinegar, cap it tightly, and keep in a dark, cool place (like the back of the fridge).</p><p>After about two weeks, your lemon-cleanser base should be ready. Strain the liquid through a piece of cheesecloth or a mesh strainer into another clean jar, discarding the peels.</p><p>In a spray bottle, combine the cleanser base with water in a 1:1 ratio, and it's ready to go.</p><p>This organic surface cleaner is excellent for glass windows and mirrors, showers and sinks, countertops, and other surfaces. Since the mixture is very acidic, avoid using on marble or stone, as it might cause pitting on the surface. </p>
3. Keep produce dirty.<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY2MTkzNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2Mjg0MTE1N30.GPLlrouDytglxsYd8kf-5aYpLw5XviCXnVGgVEzOtmU/img.jpg?width=980" id="0b400" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="41d171a58d45ddb420f8da2056048441" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2250" data-height="1500" />
Pexels<p>Extend the life of fruits and vegetables by refraining from washing until you're ready to use them; too much moisture on produce can cause premature decay and send food to the trash. If you get a particularly dirty batch of potatoes or other fruits and veggies, you can still give them a good wash if they're dried completely before being stored in the fridge.</p>
4. Stock up on scraps.<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3f0c37a649ee985435a31948baf3dd7f"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/NcUEZaOp-5s?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Save veggie scraps in the freezer to make your own <a href="https://tasty.co/recipe/how-to-make-veggie-stock-with-kitchen-scraps" target="_blank">veggie stock</a>. Not only will you keep peels out of the trash, but you'll circumvent buying pre-made stock, which often comes in wasteful, non-recyclable packaging.</p><p>As you accumulate vegetable scraps – stalks, skins, stems, chopped-off tops and bottoms – add them to a Ziplock bag or Tupperware container in the freezer, where they can stay for up to six months. While peeling often eliminates the need for washing some foods, like potatoes, you'll need to thoroughly wash any vegetables from which you plan to save scraps in order to avoid a muddy stock.</p><p>Once you have a decent amount of scraps, drop them in a pot and fill it with water. Bring the water to a boil and let simmer for 30-40 minutes, adding salt as needed. Strain the stock, making sure to remove any visible scraps.</p><p>The stock can be refrigerated for up to four days (or frozen for up to three months), and can be used in all of your favorite <a href="https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/vegetable-broth-recipes/" target="_blank">recipes calling for vegetable broth</a>.</p>
5. Rescue avocados from browning.<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY1ODUyNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzQxMjMzNn0.jUgBXyjppaC90MlBH5gp7FR-xngjTxoXXm11_7nQYW8/img.jpg?width=980" id="5b67a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="652fc9deab752d1124b94fca4bed33ac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2520" data-height="1418" />
Pexels<p>Before stowing an avocado-half in the fridge, rub a few drops of lemon or lime juice on the exposed surface. The citric acid will <a href="https://www.thespruceeats.com/keep-avocados-from-turning-brown-1328686" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">slow down the browning process</a> and your avocado will stay fresh for longer.</p>
6. Revive limp kale.<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY1ODI0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzMwNDcxN30.p7GRQQXdqHVyvQCer-GV2PCor3KLuvs5_BFK-SSJ5gE/img.jpg?width=980" id="b56ac" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fb43aac852fcff77b3acc2592b0f2287" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2250" data-height="1500" />
Pexels<p>Kale and most other leafy greens like to be kept dry – a dish towel wrapped around the leaves and placed inside a produce bag should keep them fresh in the fridge; but, droopy kale isn't a lost cause! <a href="https://foodess.com/article/tuesday-tips-how-to-bring-wilted-kale-back-to-life/#:~:text=treat%20them%20like%20flowers!,new%20in%20a%20few%20hours!" target="_blank">Cut the edges of the stems and submerge</a> in a few inches of water in a glass. Tuck them in the fridge for a few hours, and the leaves will perk right up.</p>
7. Store smarter.<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5896c7edc784497b512a0bf5698bc87f"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/tk0omultgnU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Storing produce more mindfully is an important way to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/keep-your-produce-fresh/" target="_blank">extend the shelf life of your produce</a>, and prevent tossing foods that have been gone bad.</p><p>Most importantly, keep foods that produce more ethylene gas away from those that don't. Ethylene promotes ripening and can cause nearby foods to spoil – especially ethylene-sensitive foods, like leafy greens, eggplant, peppers, squash, and sweet potatoes. <a href="https://www.subzero-wolf.com/assistance/answers/ethylene-producing-foods" target="_blank">Ethylene-producing foods</a> include apples, avocadoes, ripening bananas, mangoes, peaches, pears, plantains, and tomatoes. Storing these in a separate drawer will prevent your other groceries from rotting prematurely.</p>
8. Grow your own herbs.<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY2MTgxNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTM0NDM5Mn0.FvlesWdpXFqyNBEnOtiStcj_cYmBCP-8YA5ASak63sI/img.jpg?width=980" id="0f650" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2870412139a8986475d323ba578be785" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="4505" data-height="3317" />
s0ulsurfing - Jason Swain / Moment / Getty Images<p>At most mainstream grocery stores, fresh herbs come pre-packaged in disposable plastic containers and in rather large quantities. When a recipe calls for only a dash of rosemary or a handful of chopped basil for serving, you might find yourself with more than you can realistically use.</p><p>Luckily, you don't even need a backyard to have a <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/how-to-create-your-indoor-edible-garden-1881995906.html" target="_self">beautiful, indoor herb garden</a>. Many herbs will <a href="https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/herbs-indoors/8920.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">thrive in a pot on your windowsill</a>, close at hand to pluck exactly the amount you need for a given recipe.</p><p>To grow sage, thyme, oregano and rosemary, look out for planter starters – a small piece of the plant that has already rooted and started growing – at a local hardware, grocery, or garden store. Herbs like dill, basil, parsley, and chives are easier to grow from seed, although purchasing starters can jumpstart the process.</p><p>Plant the starters or seeds in a well-draining pot, and water only when the soil is dry or the herbs are drooping. If you have a window sill that gets around 6 hours of indirect sunlight a day, great; if not, a small <a href="https://www.thespruce.com/best-grow-lights-4158720" target="_blank">grow light</a> can brighten up any corner of the house where you have space for growing.</p>
9. First in, first out.<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY2MTc1Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MDAwMzcyMH0.NZGtVC_aNqaRuJq28cHL0WvosQ4E7tH8m1uOZRR-I6s/img.jpg?width=980" id="dab8d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="370e71afedbdaffb82d9a6efec3d9ea8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2250" data-height="1500" />
Pexels<p>When unloading your bags from the grocery store, don't let the new items sit front and center. Bring older groceries to the front to encourage your household to eat these first. Designating a "use first" drawer will also remind you what to eat before breaking into the new stuff.</p>
10. Get pickling.<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="38cb5a8bd34a749523c93f7dbfefbec6"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jJSaSyIHeEQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>If it's becoming clear that you won't get around to cooking with that red onion, try preserving it instead of tossing it in the trash.</p><p><a href="https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-quick-pickle-any-vegetable-233882" target="_blank">Pickling</a> is a great way to squeeze some extra life out of foods. Cucumbers, onions, cauliflower, beets, green beans, onions, and even <a href="https://www.southernliving.com/food/entertaining/pickled-fruit-video" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fruit</a> can be easily pickled for future use. By keeping some some vinegar, sugar, and salt on hand, you'll be ready to prepare an <a href="https://www.feastingathome.com/quick-pickled-vegetables/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">easy brine</a> in a pinch for preserving your produce.</p><p>Some easy <a href="https://www.liveeatlearn.com/quick-pickled-vegetables/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pickling recipes</a> even add extra spices and seasoning for a more flavorful product.</p>
11. Blend up the extras.<div id="ca24e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e0b7ec64e659e80d3a5f689c13734a88"><blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"> </div></div><p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B-ptQOXJ-ai/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top"></a></p> </div></blockquote></div><p>When you find yourself with produce on the brink, whip up a "<a href="https://www.wellandgood.com/whatever-smoothie-formula/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">whatever smoothie</a>," adding anything you have on hand: overripe bananas, leftover stalks from leafy greens, wilting kale and spinach, or soon-to-be-spoiled produce that you just don't know what to do with. This <a href="https://foodwastefeast.com/recipes/2018/6/5/bruised-fruit-and-surplus-vegetable-smoothies" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">delicious, waste-free smoothie</a> is an easy alternative to tossing your less-than-perfect produce.</p>
12. Compost if you can.<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY2MTc4NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzIzMTEyNn0.B_seUe74jSp1YEy6-4kMPXqXkVXNsfIONiC7mQrjL1k/img.jpg?width=980" id="daa45" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="38c8cc65d8a0fbf386fbc0c43bcfd25f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2121" data-height="1414" />
svetikd / E+ / Getty Images<p>Composting is one of the most effective ways to divert food waste from <a href="https://www.usda.gov/foodlossandwaste/why" target="_blank">landfills, where it decomposes and contributes to methane emissions</a>: a harmful greenhouse gas accelerating climate change.</p><p>As composting becomes increasingly recognized as an important practice, practical (and cute!) <a href="https://www.thespruceeats.com/best-compost-bins-4150354" target="_blank">indoor compost bins</a> are widely available and fit right on a kitchen counter or tucked discreetly underneath. <a href="https://www.thespruce.com/what-to-compost-1709069" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Be wary of what you toss in</a>, avoiding meat, dairy, and greasy leftovers that harbor pathogens and give the compost a strong odor.</p><p>When it's time to empty the bin, indoor and outdoor composting systems allow for the natural processes that break down food and create rich, organic fertilizer for lawns and gardens. If you have an outdoor space, maintaining your own <a href="https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/10-compost-bins-for-backyard-gardeners-8119" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">backyard composting system</a> is rather simple, with many different styles and options to fit your space. There are even <a href="https://www.bobvila.com/articles/indoor-composting/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">excellent options for indoor composting</a> if you don't have access to a yard.</p><p>Many cities have developed large-scale <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/city-compost-programs-2646170908.html?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2" target="_self">municipal composting programs</a> for residents – including <a href="https://www.greenmatters.com/p/top-composting-cities" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">San Francisco, Seattle, and Boulder</a> – allowing city- and apartment-dwellers without their own outdoor space to compost. Even if your city doesn't have a composting program, there are plenty of <a href="https://compostnow.org/compost-services/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">independent groups</a> that might accept your scraps, including some community gardens and communal composting centers. Research what options exist in your area and consider how composting might work for you.</p>
- 5 Best (Eco-Friendly) Meal Kit Delivery Services of 2021 - EcoWatch ›
- Concerned About Food Waste? Study Finds Meal Kits May Be ... ›
- Can the U.S. Slash Food Waste in Half in the Next Ten Years ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Residential solar energy companies are helping more and more homeowners upgrade their properties to clean energy sources. Solar energy companies can equip you with the technology you need to harness the amazing power of the sun and reduce your need for fossil fuels. In this article, we'll review some of the most trustworthy providers and installers of solar power.
Our picks for the best solar companies
The first step in the process is researching some of the top companies in the solar industry. Here are the ones that stood out in our research.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
How we chose the best solar energy companies
How did we determine which solar power companies to recommend?
To begin with, we took a deep dive into each company's offerings, assessing them for the following criteria:
- Range of services offered
- Pricing/affordability and financing options
- Extent of service area
- Solar panel efficiency
- Temperature coefficient (e.g., how much high temperatures affect efficiency)
Additionally, we weighed membership and certification by professional associations like the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Affiliation with these groups is a good indicator that a solar energy company is reputable, and that their work is up to the highest standards within the industry.
The best solar energy companies
schmidt-z / Getty Images
With these criteria in mind, consider our picks for the best solar panel providers and installers in the industry.
If you're looking for a company that can walk you through the process of upgrading to solar power for an easy and convenient experience, look no further than to SunPower. The company offers:
- A "design studio" app, allowing you to safely and seamlessly design your own solar power system so that you can see a visual of what the finished product will look like once installed.
- Online calculators that make it easy for you to determine about how much electricity you will save once you upgrade to solar panels.
- Virtual consultations, allowing you to chat one-on-one with a solar power expert and to ask any questions you might have.
SunPower offers leading solar panels and energy storage technology to homeowners across dozens of states. And, they are also the preferred solar partner of many major businesses, including Walmart, FedEx, and Lowes.
Why buy: SunPower is a reliable solar energy company with an impressive tech portfolio and an extremely easy, intuitive process.
Upgrading to solar power can seem a little intimidating, but SunRun is out to bring simplicity. Their approach makes it extremely straightforward to select a custom solar energy plan for your household. Here's what to know about SunRun:
- They offer virtual consultations with solar energy experts, making it simple to explore your options and determine which solar set-up is right for your home energy needs.
- Each system they design is completely customized to address the customer's needs. SunRun doesn't do "one size fits all" solar equipment options.
- Their guarantee, the best in the industry, offers extraordinary peace of mind that your solar system will prove durable and reliable.
- SunRun also leads in terms of flexible financing options, making solar power accessible and affordable.
Why buy: With SunRun, the name of the game is customization. This is one of the best solar installation companies to turn to for solar power solutions that are truly made with you in mind.
You probably associate Tesla with their electric vehicles, but did you know that the company also produces high-efficiency solar panels? Depending on your needs and your budget, Tesla can hook you up with an array of solar panels or even a solar roof, making it easy to cut electricity costs and power your home via the sun's vital energy.
Some fast facts about choosing solar power from Tesla:
- They offer a price match guarantee and affordable financing options.
- Their advanced solar panel technology offers a low profile, a sleek style, and long-term durability.
- Home battery backups allow you to save solar power and then access it on demand, whenever you need it.
Why buy: Tesla offers sophisticated solar products for what the company claims is the lowest price of any national provider, which they back with a price-match guarantee. Plus, all of their solar panels come with a solid 25-year performance guarantee.
LG is another well-known tech company that is also a leader in solar energy. Some of their solar panels use a bifacial solar module that captures energy from two directions to increase their efficiency. While they are a solar panel manufacturer, they can also help you with the installation process by finding an LG Pro installer in your area.
- They offer an online "solar concierge" service that allows you to evaluate your home energy needs and to compare different options for going solar.
- LG offers a 25-year warranty, not only on their technology but also on the work their of their solar installers.
- They offer a range of solar panels and supporting products, and they supply you with plenty of information to make a fully informed choice.
Why buy: LG is a company that knows technological innovation. Their award-winning solar energy products are reliably efficient, well-priced, and designed for maximum efficiency.
Panasonic has one of the most impressive tech portfolios in the solar energy industry. Their products boast some of the highest conversion efficiency rates, along with the lowest degradation rates. And they back everything with a generous warranty.
Some additional reasons to choose Panasonic:
- They offer a range of solar panels to choose from. With Panasonic, you'll find that you have plenty of options.
- They also provide a lot of great online support and consumer education, ensuring you'll get the most out of your solar technology.
Why buy: Panasonic is a solar panel company with products that are tough to beat. Both their pricing and warranties are very appealing, and their HIT high-performance solar panels offer some of the best power conversion rates of any product.
Vivint is a company that offers a full spectrum of services, including solar power consultation, design, and installation. A few reasons why homeowners trust their solar power needs to the Vivint team:
- Everything Vivint does is customized. They tailor everything to fit your roof and to help you achieve your home energy goals.
- They make the entire process simple, handling all of the little details for you. This includes securing permits, filing the right paperwork, etc.
- They emphasize safety, using only the highest caliber of solar panels and backing everything with a world-class warranty.
Why buy: Vivint is noteworthy for their focus on customization, their commitment to safety, and their one-stop-shop solar power solutions. In addition to solar panel installation, they also offer other specialized technology, including solar-powered electric vehicle chargers.
Enphase is another company that stands out, both for their robust technology as well as for their commitment to customization. Their microinverter technology makes their solar system safer by reducing the likelihood of arc fault fires.
- They design their solar technology with safety in mind, including fire safeguards that other companies can't match.
- Their solar panels are built for durability and can hold up even through the most extreme kinds of weather.
- Enphase uses smart technology to update itself; all you need to do is connect it to your home Internet.
- They also have one of the best apps in the solar industry, making it simple to monitor your home energy use.
Why buy: Enphase is a company of innovators, and their solar portfolio has a lot to offer. Their system is also modular, meaning you can easily add more panels to your system as you need them.
This solar power provider has won recognition not just for their excellent technology, but also for their sincere commitment to sustainability and to ecological stewardship. And don't let the name throw you off: Though Canadian Solar is based in Canada, they provide solar power solutions in the U.S. and other countries.
Some additional facts about Canadian Solar:
- They offer a wide range of products, from energy converters to storage solutions.
- Their solar panels boast exceedingly high energy efficiency rates.
- Canadian Solar has won a number of awards for its first-class innovations, and one of their products even set a world record for conversion efficiency in 2020.
Why buy: This company has a proven track record of technological excellence, plus a real commitment to ecological stewardship. They also closely monitor their supply chain to ensure that no goods or materials used in their products come from prohibited forms of labor.
First Solar boasts an impressive track record of advocacy for solar power and for renewable energy sources. And, thankfully, they back their advocacy with some excellent solar technologies.
A few reasons to choose First Solar solar panels:
- Their technology offers an outstanding temperature coefficient, meaning they won't lose performance during high temperatures.
- Their solar cells are among the most reliable and most efficient in the clean energy sector.
- First Solar also offers a lot of post-purchase, post-installation help, as needed.
Why buy: First Solar is a great option for anyone who's serious about renewable energy, and who wants the best performance from their solar panels.
The biggest drawback to Go Solar is that, right now, their work is limited to just a few states. But if you happen to live in that part of the country, you're in luck. Go Solar's panels are uniquely calibrated to take advantage of the western region's abundant sunlight. Some additional reasons to pick Go Solar include:
- They offer free home solar assessments.
- They custom-design solar systems to meet the needs of your home.
- They have some of the most trusted installers in the solar power industry.
Why buy: For solar solutions that are tailored to the climate of the American West, definitely consider Go Solar. Plus, with their Give Solar International partnership, they give an equivalent solar panel system to a family in Uganda for each system sold.
How does a solar energy system work?
schmidt-z / Getty Images
As you explore the different options for embracing solar power, it may be helpful to have a baseline understanding of how solar energy systems actually function.
Generally speaking, solar energy systems involve solar panels installed on your roof. These panels absorb the sun's energy, storing it in what are known as photovoltaic cells. These cells convert the solar energy into direct current (DC) energy, then use an inverter to convert that DC energy into alternate current (AC) electricity. AC electricity is what you need to power all your home appliances.
It's important to note that, before you purchase solar panels, it's worthwhile to meet with a solar energy consultant who can tell you more about how many panels your home will require, and also to let you know how those panels should be ideally positioned on the roof.
One more note: If you're concerned about the affordability of solar power, it's important to remember that most solar energy companies provide a host of options, including flexible financing and solar lease options for a system rather than purchase it outright. As you talk with different solar energy companies, don't hesitate to inquire about these leasing and financing options.
Benefits of solar energy
Installing solar panels on your home can yield a number of benefits. Here are just a few examples.
One of the main reasons why homeowners choose to install solar cells is that it allows them to truly embrace clean energy sources. Rather than depend on fossil fuels and power plants, you can power your home with renewable energy that comes straight from the sun. This can be a highly effective way to minimize your environmental footprint.
Solar tax credits and rebates
There are a number of ways in which choosing renewable energy can save you money, starting with the fact that there are so many rebates and tax credits available. Essentially, both the federal government and many state governments want to encourage people to "go green" as much as possible, and they will make it worth your while by allowing you to claim these important tax incentives. Some utility companies also offer rebates that can help pay for the upfront costs of solar projects.
Lower electricity bills
Of course, embracing solar power will also help you save money by slashing your electricity bills. Most solar energy companies offer online calculators that allow you to see for yourself how much money you'll save over time, simply by changing to a renewable energy source. There is also an option called a power purchase agreement (PPA) that can allow you to host a solar or renewable energy system from a utility provider in exchange for lowered energy rates. If your solar panel system generates excess energy, the utility will then purchase that energy from you in the form of a net metering credit on your bill.
Make a smart choice about solar power
There are obviously a lot of perks to choosing solar energy for your home. And yet, it can also be a rather daunting process, simply because there are so many solar energy companies to choose from.
Using our guidelines and rankings, start doing your due diligence, seeking the solar power company that's right for you. Remember to look for a company that's well-regarded within the industry and get a consultation before you buy. Always be sure to ask some direct questions about the financing options that are available to you.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. His writing on natural health, nutrition, and supplements has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.