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What are the Environmental and Financial Benefits of Going Solar?

So, you are considering solar and need a few more rounds of ammo to seal the deal. Good! You’ve come to the right place. Let’s begin with the environmental benefits of choosing solar, then we’ll cover the juicy financials.

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS

  • No emissions/pollution free

Unlike burning coal, oil, or even wood, solar power is clean. That is to say, there are no residual accumulating pollutants after a day’s worth of energy generation.

  • Reduce your carbon footprint

Whether you are an eco-cognizant carbon worrier, or someone who does not know the difference between a carbon footprint and a criminal fingerprint, you’ll be glad to know installing solar equipment on your property lessens the detrimental impact you have on our environment. There are some curmudgeons out there that will argue the carbon cost of producing the panels outstrips the advantage of them, but they are flatly wrong. Those panels have a net zero carbon footprint after only 2 years on your roof, and that number is decreasing with new production methods. After that, you’ll be consuming significantly less energy produced by processes which release CO2 into the atmosphere, thereby doing your part to ameliorate our global warming and pollution problems. Go you!

  • Provide clean energy for the next generation

Your home or business will probably be around for some years to come, even after you pass on to whatever you believe lies ahead. The equipment you install now has long-term warranties on it, and many panel manufacturers warranty their product for 25 years. There are installations done 50 years ago that still produce. Those that inhabit your home or work in your buildings in 2060 will be thankful you installed this equipment.

  • Be a part of your communities’ solar future

By conserving and installing solar power, you now are providing a model for others in your community to follow. You would be AMAZED at the difference in receptivity to solar from people on a block where someone has it vs. people on a block who don’t. It’s also a great way to teach your children or those in the neighborhood about energy, the awesome power of the sun, and electrical engineering. Even though I studied psychology, this stuff is really cool. Just think, you can run your electric guitar, Cuisinart or power tools with photons careening off of our sun. Try to imagine explaining that to someone who was born in 1608. This technology is simple, elegant and really amazing.

FINANCIAL BENEFITS

Here we get down to the financial reasons to go solar. Experience has shown that this is the area many home and business owners really care most about. Well, let’s get to it!

  • Stabilizes energy costs over time

Current utility rates are just that. They are current – meaning they have been a lot lower in the past and there is no reason to believe they will be decreasing any time in the near future unless you start generating some of your own power. Below, you can see the average cost of energy per kilowatt hour in California. Over the past 30 years, this rate has increased at 6.7% per year. Look for this number to increase US wide in the coming years due to the increase in natural gas prices, among other things.

By getting ahead of the curve and going solar, you can lock in future energy costs over several decades that are significantly lower than you are currently paying. Here’s a more practical example of why going solar for this reason makes a lot of sense. As you probably know, airlines are having severe problems maintaining their profitability after fuel hikes. Many are charging for additional bags, some are now charging for water! Water! Well, in the past 2 years, United filed for bankruptcy, Delta almost tanked, and others like America West and US Airways had to merge with each other to stay afloat.

Southwest was the only airline that made it through this continuing price surge. They recently reported their 28th profitable quarter in a row. Why? They locked in the price of fuel years ahead of time at a good rate by buying fuel futures. Buy your own energy futures with solar energy today. Don’t be the next United Airlines. Even if you don’t have pensions to sever, the money you save can be used for other things- like your bottom line, groceries, or your next tank of gas.

  • Utilizes free fuel (sunshine)

Oil extraction is risky, dangerous, messy and expensive business. Sunshine however, is.. well.. pleasantly free. I’ll spare you the elementary math. Yes, while the equipment needed to harness the energy is not free, the energy produced after payback is. It’s like having your own oil rig in your back yard, except it’s not ugly, nor does it move. Plus you don’t have to set the product on fire to make it work, it just does.

  • Adds value to your home

Having solar equipment on your home increases its value. How much? Appraisers are still getting their act together on this one and they may vary a bit from one to another, but according to The Appraisal Journal, solar energy adds $15-$20 times yearly energy savings to resale value. So let’s say you own a home in Pennsylvania and you install a solar power system on your roof, and it ends up saving you $4000/year in electricity bills. That means your home would increase in value $60,000-$80,000. That’s more than the system will cost, so your initial investment is recouped immediately and pays a $4000 dividend the first year. Instead of getting upset every time your utility raises power rates, you get a raise instead!

  • Reduces your annual electric or gas bill

No brainer.

  • Leverages lucrative financial incentives and tax credits

Incentives and tax credits were passed into law in many states. Check the right hand side of the page for further details. In some areas, you can deduct up to 50% of the cost of your solar power system (including installation!). However, these tax credits are not permanent. For some areas, credits like this are expiring and will be stepped down over the next decade. Now’s the time to lock them in. Once electric rate prices make solar more cost effective on it’s own, you will have purchased the same technology as the latecomers, but the government will have paid up to half the price for you. You’ve been paying for these rebates with your taxes and your electric bill…. TAKE THEM BACK!

  • Adds credits to your utility account for future use

Many states have net metering guidelines they must follow when home or business-owners install energy producing equipment. Net-metering does not involve people from your municipality donned in orange hardhats coming through to measure the height of your basketball hoop net with meter sticks. Instead, your power company is obliged to purchase power you generate back from you at a wholesale rate. So, let’s say you’ve got some solar power panels up on your roof for the summer but you decide to go on and take a vacation for a month or so. All the power that is being generated gets credited to your account. At the end of the year, if you use as much power as you feed back into the grid, your power bill is… negligible. In Germany, legislation has gone a step farther. There, they have huge feed-in tariffs which means that home and business-owners get paid 4 times as much for the electricity that they produce than for the power they consume. Also, they are cut a check from the power company for excess power generation. This is why over 60% of the solar equipment produced in this country is shipped there, creating a panel shortage here. Though the subsidies there are about to be cut back quite a bit, look at the effects on the workforce and panel market:


Now, go get yourself hooked up with a local installer to get moving!

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One thought on “What are the Environmental and Financial Benefits of Going Solar?

  1. waxner says:

    However, if it’s really hot, it can become a more effective proposition, as driving with the windows closed is more economical than having them all open, due to the extra drag it causes. Also, don’t keep the engine running; drive off as soon as you start up and switch off the engine as soon as you reach your destination.

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