Homeowner Robert Phipps Says Neighbor's Solar Panels Are Blinding

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There are plenty of environmental and budgetary benefits to installing solar panels on your roof, but there could be one health drawback: permanently blinding your neighbor. Robert Phipps, a homeowner in England, claims that the glare of the sun off of the solar panels on his neighbor's home is so bright that his entire family has to use blackout curtains to keep from going blind, the U.K.'s South West News Service reported. Phipps said that there's no escaping the reflected light when it floods the home from end to end -- he's even worried that the glare could cause permanent retinal damage to members of his family.

Phipps said that because of the slope his neighbor's house sits on and the angle at which the solar panels were installed, the intense light is pointed directly at his home. "If you go into the garden, there's this huge wall of light pointing straight at you from 12 meters away," Phipps told SWNS. "It's worse than looking directly at the sun. If you look at it and turn away, you'll have blobs in front of your eyes for 10 minutes. I'm really worried it's causing us retinal damage."

Phipps told the North Devon Journal in Devon, England, that he has tried building a 6-foot fence at his home in Torridge to block the light, but that hasn't worked. Phipps is out of work on disability, and he said the stress of the glaring problem is worsening his health. But the neighbor, Trevor Chase, told SWNS that his solar panels were a bright idea to "do our bit to save energy and help the planet. ... We can see other people's solar panels. On the house in front we can see sets of solar panels, and there is glare from them when the sun catches them, but we don't mind. We just think, 'Live and let live.' It happens everywhere."

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Homeowner Robert Phipps Says Neighbor's Solar Panels Are Blinding

Austin Energy is the nation’s top seller of renewable energy, and the company offers homeowners low-interest loans of up to $20,000 dollars for energy efficient upgrades. In addition, the company offers rebates for numerous upgrades, including extra attic insulation, high-efficiency clothes washers, rainwater collection barrels, and low-flow toilets.

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Seattle residents are known for being eco-conscious, as evidenced by the recent ban on plastic bags, so it’s not surprising they’d want their homes to be green too. Although the city is known for its rain, Seattle receives more sunlight than Germany, the world’s leading solar market, and Washington State offers financial incentives for those who generate their own electricity using solar electric systems.

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Homeowners looking to reduce costs associated with air conditioning in L.A.’s warm climate can take advantage of the L.A. County’s Energy Loans Program, which offers loans of up to $50,000 with financing as low as 4.99% when homeowners undertake home energy improvements. In addition, Energy Upgrade California offers rebates of up to $4,000 to homeowners who make their home more energy efficient. To see some stylish green homes on the market in L.A., check out this Redfin Collection.

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As part of the “Green Phoenix” initiative, Phoenix offers a one-time grant to homeowners for making improvements that reduce energy consumption. The city has also received funding to retrofit low-income residential homes with cost effective energy saving measures.

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Even though Philadelphia’s carbon dioxide emissions were higher than other cities, it ranked second for homes with eco-friendly features. In 2009 the city passed two laws that advance green building practices. The first requires that new city government buildings meet LEED Silver Certification, and the second requires all new construction to have “cool roofs” that meet or exceed Energy Star standards.

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Portland General Electric offers residents the choice to pay a little more for renewable energy options, including wind-sourced power. In addition, Portland residents who want to make their home more green can attend Fix-It Fairs, which offer resources and information to help attendees reduce water and energy usage, among other green initiatives.

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Boston Mayor Thomas Menino launched an initiative to be “Green by 2015,” which includes powering homes using a combination of waste products and solar panels. The city also supports the Energy Positive “E+” Green Building Demonstration Program, which aims to bring green homes to Boston’s neighborhoods.

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Sacramento has the second-lowest carbon dioxide emissions in the country, and new developments have focused on energy-efficient homes, such as the Northwest Land Park, which will build 800 new homes that use net-zero electricity.

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According to the U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, D.C., has the most (LEED)-certified space, which likely contributes to the city’s low carbon dioxide emission rates. In addition, the district offers a number of rebates and tax credits for residential energy efficiency, which may help explain the high number of homes for sale with eco-friendly features.

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In addition to having the lowest carbon dioxide emission rate per capita, San Francisco has a large number of homes for sale with eco-friendly features. One incentive for locals to go green may be Pacific Gas & Electric’s rebates, which offer up to $4,000 for home energy upgrades ($5,000 for low-income households) including insulation and air duct sealing.

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Phipps has asked local officials to do something about the glare, but the local Torridge District Council told SWNS that Chase's solar panels were installed under appropriate guidelines. However, an official told the news agency, the district's "planning system should of course ensure there are no resulting problems affecting neighbouring properties by making it a requirement for installers to provide evidence that glare from roof-mounted panels won't affect neighbours."

Solar panels became popular in England in 2010 when the government started subsidizing homeowners who installed them to lower energy use. However, the subsidies were paid for through increases on other people's energy bills -- and now it's gotten out of control. In January, it was discovered that the subsidies had added 1 billion pounds to the cost of people's every bills over the course of a year, according to the Daily Mail. (Perhaps the amount due on an energy bill is even more blinding than Chase's solar panels.)

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See more on solar panels and green living:
Solar Power at Home Saves Money
Green Living for Renters
7 Green Home Trends: From Baby Steps to Extreme Updates

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Find out how to
calculate mortgage payments.
Find
homes for sale in your area.
Find
foreclosures in your area.
Find homes for rent in your area.


Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

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