The Best Things in Life are Free, Including Solar Energy

The Best Things in Life are Free, Including Solar Energy
Residential solar panels - Ecology Solar Residential Solar Energy – Ecology Solar[/caption]

The moon belongs to everyone
The best things in life are free…
Flowers in spring
The robins that sing
Sunbeams that shine
They’re yours and their mine…

Lyrics from The Best Things in Life are Free by Sam Cooke

When people ask me what I do for a living I tell them that I help people get solar power for their house or business. I do this work is because climate change is one of the biggest problems facing humanity, and solar energy is one of the best solutions to it. Many people recognize the advantages of solar power, but they believe it just doesn’t fit into their budgets. When I explain that solar energy is free I can see the skepticism in their eyes, as if to say: “Yeah, right. Nothing in life is free.” But it’s true: After factoring in incentives and electric bill savings, solar energy cost is better than free because a well designed solar system will earn its owner thousands of dollars in extra cash. 

Where do people get the idea that solar energy is expensive?  

That’s easy. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems were expensive. According to a report from the U.S. government’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), solar energy cost dropped from just over $9 per watt in 2007 to $4.27 per watt in 2014. That’s a drop of 52.5% in just seven years, or an average of -7.5% per year. The trend has continued, with prices now hovering around $3.50 per watt, which means that with the many good options for financing and incentives factored in, it doesn’t cost anything for most homeowners to have a custom PV system installed.

Here’s why: Lenders are eager to finance home solar installations because they have proven over time to be reliable, valuable assets that generate cash. No other home improvement investment generates cash like solar energy.  A typical system will generate tens of thousands of dollars over its 25+ year lifetime, because every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy produced by solar panels is one less kWh that is purchased from the electric utility company. Your new kitchen or room addition might add to your enjoyment of your home and even increase its value, but it won’t generate cash until you sell your home. Even then, after subtracting your initial investment cost, the return may not be that great.

The only home improvement investments that come close to solar energy’s return on investment (ROI) are energy saving measures such as attic insulation, LED lighting, or new energy-efficient appliances and windows. When efficiency measures are employed to reduce overall energy consumption, solar energy can take a home to or near “net-zero” energy consumption. This means that over a course of a year, the home’s net energy consumption is zero.

Solar energy cost calculation

Today’s solar financing options include a no money down loan that will float the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit for up to 18 months at no additional cost. For example, if an installed solar system’s gross cost is $20,000, the owner can deduct $6,000 on their year-end tax bill, which brings the actual system cost down to $14,000. The lender pays the installation company the full price of $20,000, but allows the homeowner to pay down the loan principle upon receipt of their $6,000 tax refund the following year.

Annual loan payments are usually set to be about the same amount as the annual electric bill savings, so the amount that the owner was paying the utility is now being paid to the lender, resulting in a change of $0 in average monthly expenses. Over time, utility costs will rise (historically, they always have risen, like everything else), but solar loan payments will stay the same, so future increases in electric bills are avoided. Here’s the kicker: Once the loan is paid off, typically in 10-15 years, monthly expenses drop even further. Solar panels are warrantied to last 25 years, but typically last longer, so the cash gained over the life of the system oftens amounts to tens of thousands of dollars.

Solar powered house - Ecology Solar
Home solar installation – Ecology Solar

If the price of solar is still dropping, why not wait until it drops even more?

Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t wait to have a solar powered house:

  1. The world’s natural ecosystems cannot wait for humans to reduce their burning of fossil fuels. Sea levels are rising, forests are burning, coral reefs are dying, and storms are becoming more fierce. But if millions of home and business owners elect to get their electricity from solar energy, millions of tons of CO2, the greenhouse gas that causes global warming, will stop being pumped into the atmosphere and we’ll have a chance to stop the rise in global temperatures. This is an urgent problem that requires immediate action.
  2. It’s easy, painless, and you’ll feel good. As explained above, the cost of going solar is zero, and in fact, you’ll save thousands of dollars in cash over the life of the system. Best of all, you’ll feel great knowing that you are doing your part, day in and day out, to stop global warming and reduce air pollution.  
  3. Your home or business will increase in value by at least the cost of the system, so, like that updated kitchen or room addition, you’ll command a higher selling price for your home when the time comes.
  4. Be set free! Solar energy sets us free from dependence on electric utilities for our electricity needs. That means freedom from future price increases, freedom from fossil fuel-generated electricity, freedom from gas-powered cars that emit toxic fumes, and freedom from the gas price roller coaster. (Electric vehicles are also excellent investments that emit no toxic fumes or greenhouse gasses, especially when powered by a solar system, but we’ll leave that story to another post.)

There are lots of Alternative Energy Companies, so what’s special about Ecology Solar?

Ecology Solar specializes in well-made, safe, and reliable solar systems for homes and commercial solar systems as well. The type of solar panels we source are sustainably manufactured, ensuring that the natural environment and workers are not harmed in the manufacturing process.  Also, we are based in Denver and we make it a priority to provide excellent, prompt customer service.  Our customers are our neighbors, so we work hard to keep them happy. So contact Ecology Solar today for a free, no-obligation assessment and proposal.
Sometimes the best things in life are better than free; sometimes, they actually make money.

Residential Solar Energy - Ecology Solar
Solar Energy for House – Ecology Solar

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