Earlier today Google announced the launch of an initiative to help people make solar power work for them, aptly named Project Sunroof. The project takes advantage of existing Google Earth data to show people how much sunlight their roof actually gets and locates the hotspots on their roof. Project Sunroof will also calculate how much each household could save after installing solar panels and provides a connection with local companies that install solar panels.

If you're wondering how it works, first you type in your home address and then Project Sunroof provides information on how much sunlight reaches your roof in a year and gives recommendations for how many solar panels you should install. The analysis takes into account 3D modeling of your roof, nearby trees and buildings that cast a shadow over your roof, the possible sun positions, and historical cloud and temperature patterns.

This all started when Google noticed people were searching for how to install and use solar panels. Google decided to use the information they had about how many panels to install, where to put them, how financially beneficial the installation would be (some of the frequently asked questions) to help people get started. The aim of the project is to simplify the process and encourage more people to install solar panels.

For now, Project Sunroof is available in Boston, the Bay Area, and Fresno, but there are plans for it to be available nationwide soon.