We have all heard, and maybe at some point been annoyed, with the solar power and renewable energy movement. All this talk about how great it is for the environment, and how it can actually save you money in the long run even though it’s expensive upfront, can be overwhelming. Which leads many of us to question how true or untrue it is. With Radiant Energy being a full-service energy management company, many of our customers have come to us with this question. So, here is what we tell our customers:
“Well, it depends on your situation and what you’re expectations are.” If you don’t live in California, the southwest, southeast or any other area that sees a substantial amount of sunlight, chances are that it is not worth it for you.
Just Going Green
This may sound vague, but it really does depend… If you’re just trying to reduce your carbon footprint, it more than likely will meet your expectations. Renewable energy sources have always been extremely less detrimental to the environment than traditional sources of energy from a consumer’s standpoint. However, this leads many people to question how environmentally friendly it was to produce solar panels. At the beginning, most methods of production were so bad that using solar panels was actually worse than sticking with your current utility methods. As of early 2014 though, that is no longer the case. Over the years the industry has developed new methods and have found more efficient locations of production to make solar panels environmentally friendly from every aspect, not just the consumer’s. So, if environmentally friendly is what you’re going for, do it.
Most of us, though, would install solar power renewable energy equipment for the purpose of saving money (being environmentally friendly is just the nice cherry on top). This is where things get tricky. Which turns into an equation that varies from person to person.
Getting Your Money Back
Upfront costs are the first part of the equation. Solar power energy equipment has always been known to be very expensive to install. Not only was the equipment expensive, but the cost of installation was through the roof (pun intended)! Nowadays the installation process makes up a much smaller percentage of total costs, near 10% on average. Not to mention the equipment itself has become cheaper as technology and innovative production techniques have made it more practical. With all that considered, the average homeowner would still be looking at spending nearly $25,000 to install solar power energy equipment. Which sounds like a lot, because it is a lot… However, with state and federal government incentives for renewable energy, it is likely that you could get a nice percentage of that money back through rebates and tax exemptions. One New Yorker spent $27,300 on his equipment and installation, but got $18,815.50 back from the NYSERDA, so their total out of pocket investment was only $8,482.50 (see”Homeowners weigh in: are solar panels worth it?” by Brittni Smallwood). This was fortunate for them, but it is important to know what incentives are out there and what the requirements to be qualified for benefits are before you purchase solar energy equipment. This is a particularly difficult part of the process as it requires heavy research, and extensive detail in the application forms. Nonetheless, it is possible for anyone to do.
Utilities Pay Me..?
The next part of the equation refers to monthly and yearly energy savings. For the average homeowner with solar energy equipment, the average monthly bill has been around $20 as you would only be paying for taxes and surcharges. If you usually spend upwards of $100/month on electric bills each month, these savings can really add up quick. The other aspect of monthly savings refers to receiving credit from your utility. If installed properly and if you produce more energy than you use, the utility will likely credit your bill for the energy you used while your panels weren’t generating energy.
Be sure to notice any sunlight obstructions to your panels though. Often times people will assume they are in a great area for solar equipment just because they live in Arizona, ignoring the fact that there’s a huge tree next to their house blocking sunlight from the panels for half of the day. Or, a business invests in solar equipment for their downtown office, and then the next year a skyscraper goes up right next door and is now blocking their sunlight for the majority of the day. Consider how prone you are to these occurrences before investing.
But What if it’s Raining?
The last equation to consider is how reliable solar energy is when the only time energy is created is when the sun is out. Most people know that at least a portion of the energy created ends up getting stored in a battery for later use. But how long is it able to stay there without depleting? This all depends on the battery or storage device you invest in. When asking for quotes and expectations for these types of products, be sure to ask what their “guarantee” is. Many solar equipment providers include a guarantee on their products, so if you are aware of this when making your purchase decision, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision and be able to take advantage of a few extra dollars spent on a better product. Keep an eye out for Tesla’s home batteries.
Making a worth-while investment in Solar Power Renewable Energy equipment is a thorough, but very rewarding process. Not only can you end up saving yourself tons of money in the long run, but you’re doing your part in helping the environment as well. If you come across any troubles in the process that you just can’t figure out, or work out the equation for your particular circumstances but still don’t see the savings, Radiant Energy is here to help your energy solution dreams come true!