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Electrify Your Roof with Solar Tiles

Soon there might be miles of shiny tiles on roofs in suburban America.

Want to own the high-tech house on your block, with the latest solar technology? Try this on for size: solar roofing tiles that can generate up to 90 percent of your electricity. Unlike solar panels that stick out like some giant radar antenna, these tiles blend in seamlessly with the roof. And you'll enjoy paying just a fraction of what you used to pay on electricity.� Although initial installation costs are higher than a standard roof, your local utility may help to foot the bill.

Some forward-thinking utility companies are working with manufacturers of energy saving products, subsidizing the cost for up to 50% of the product for builders. Even if your utility doesn't yet offer incentives to builders in your area, it's still worth asking your builder about installation. You'll pay more for a photovoltaic roof but the long-term cost of energy is reduced. Plow those monthly savings into your mortgage, and you'll keep the monthly electricity bill invested in your home. And if your utility won't chip in, EPA will in the form of Energy Star mortgage point savings.�

It's no surprise that photovoltaic roofing has caught on in California, the state with some of the worst electrical power shortages in the country.� Renewable sources of energy are beginning to look more attractive and cost effective as the power supply gets pricier and less reliable. If you want to be altruistic, a photovoltaic roof has two other reasons to make you feel good. First, by bringing in extra power to the utility grid, it will reduce demand during peak usage and free up power that other people can use. If more homes go off the grid, the potential is that other homes will be spared from brownouts or rolling blackouts. Of course, the second major benefit is environmental and knowing that fossil fuel emissions are greatly reduced by your solar energy use.��

One manufacturer, Atlantis Energy, Inc, offers a 50-year roofing warranty, and a class "A" fire rating on its tiles. The tiles are individually replaceable in the event that repairs are needed. Atlantis says that it can be installed by the builders' own roofing subcontractors, and meets local and national building codes (NEC, UL, ICBO). How does it look? Think of shiny tiles instead of large panels that reflect the sun but installed flush with the roof.

The manufacturer builds silicon chips into roof tile, creating electricity from sunlight. Only a certain percentage of planned roof tile needs to be solar electric tiles. The surplus power feeds into the utility grid and becomes available to the homeowner whenever needed. (You can back up your solar supply with storage batteries in case of emergencies.) While your roof is producing power, you get "credit" on your electricity meter during the day. Not a bad trade-off for a shiny spot on the roof.

Sources used to create this article include Dena Amuroso and