by Raina Russo
I just returned from the Solar Power International (SPI) show, an annual event for the solar industry, and there were a few things I kept hearing over and over.
One was: “It’s simple: People can live better with solar.” The second was: “The price of electricity will rise over the next decade.”
Over the last 40 years, Americans have been fortunate to have largely consistent electric rates. But as utility providers need to replace aging systems and fuel costs rise, experts predict that homeowners will soon need to pay more for electricity.
In this economy, where jobs are uncertain and the cost of everything keeps going up, everyone wants to save money. But most of us don’t want to sacrifice to do it. With a solar installation, the panels are virtually maintenance-free. You don’t have to think about it any more than you think about the electricity used right now to power your home. You’re connected to the same grid. You flip the same light switches. You even pay the same company – except you’ll pay a lot less! And, those low prices will be locked in forever, regardless of how high electric prices rise.
Let’s Get Real: Facts and Figures on Solar Savings
In March, I purchased a 10.4kW system, which means it produces 10kW of electricity per hour in full sun conditions, or about 55kWh (kiloWatt hours) per day. I’ve consistently saved 60 percent or more on my home’s electric bills. My system is on the large side, though, and may not be a typical example.
A 4,000-watt DC system is an average size, and can reduce your utility bills by about 40 percent. The cost would average about $25,000, but don’t go into sticker shock; after rebates, tax credits and incentives, your out-of-pocket cost will actually be about $7,500 for your solar array.
If you’re an average homeowner in the New York tri-state area, you’ll save about $1,650 per year in electric. The system will literally pay for itself in about four years. Over the life of the system – about 25 years – you’ll save about $41,000. I personally can’t think of any other cash investment that promises a return of more than five times your initial investment. But you don’t have to wait 25 years. You’ll have extra money in your pocket because of lower utility bills from the first day you turn on your system.
Solar Leasing and No-Money-Down Programs
If you’re wondering how to afford that $7,500 upfront cost, this may surprise you: You don’t have to. No money down, zero percent financing and solar leasing programs are available to help you cover those costs. Your local solar PV installer can help you find the program that’s the best fit for you.
Sold on Solar?
You will save money with solar. As electric costs go up, as inflation drives up the price of everything, the cost of your home’s power will remain the same. As the saying goes, “your mileage may vary.” The price of solar, plus the savings you’ll enjoy depends on state and local municipality incentives available, plus the cost of electricity in your region, along with many other factors.
The solar savings calculator at www.ecooutfitters.net is a tool that will give you a good estimate of exactly how much you’ll save with solar, and a call to a local PV installer will let you know the exact cost of the system.
However, there’s one benefit to solar energy that is consistent regardless of where you live: You’re creating clean, home-grown power, reducing your family’s carbon footprint and showing a commitment to our environment. Solar isn’t just a way to save money. It’s peace of mind. It’s a better lifestyle – now and in the future. And you can take that to the bank!
For Raina Brett Russo, taking care of the environment is a necessity, not an option. Having grown up in Israel, a place where conservation is required and solar hot water heating is the norm, Raina knows the importance of solar energy. She is fortunate that her work as co-founder and president of EcoOutfitters.net, an information-rich online portal that bridges homeowners and businesses with qualified renewable energy installers, allows her to be involved in the solar industry’s growth.