I really appreciate the many comments posted in response to my last article. The common thread echoed was that you agree wholeheartedly with the “solar ideal.” Well, welcome to the majority! Did you know that more people in the U.S. love solar than they do puppies? It’s funny, but true; the ideal of living in a clean environment, free of fossil fuels, with full energy independency is a notion few could argue with, as if loving a puppy could be arguable.
But here’s the challenge many of you communicated loud and clearly: “Show me the money!” While an ideal world is something we all dream about, let’s get real. If the dollars don’t add up, there is really nothing to talk about. I get it!
Recently, I spent two days at a national solar conference in Philadelphia, where Rhone Resch, the president of America’s Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), highlighted the solar industry’s importance to the U.S. bottom line. Mr. Resch declared solar energy the fastest growing industry in America, pointing to a recent report that found that U.S. solar revenue grew from $3.7 billion to more than $6 billion this past year — an impressive growth rate of 67 percent, while the rest of the U.S. economy unfortunately grew at less than 3 percent. With the numbers working in our favor, I am more than happy to take on a good challenge. So roll up your sleeves and prepare to see the sunshine…
On Long Island, we have a number of circumstances that make going solar a very attractive financial investment. First off, our utility rate is amongst the highest in the entire country, so any measure that you can take to reduce your consumption from LIPA will be a plus. We also live in an area that scores very well on the solar rating scale, meaning the levels in our region are high enough for good solar productivity. And lastly, there are these very motivating financial incentives:
- A 30 percent tax credit based on the gross cost of your installation given by the federal government.
- A tax credit of 25 percent based on the net cost of a solar system, up to a max of $5,000, offered by New York State.
- A rebate of $1.75 per watt DC, up to $17,500, offered by LIPA’s Solar Pioneer Program.
- Net metering: If your solar system produces more energy than your home consumes, your meter will spin backwards, sending excess electricity back into the grid, which means you’ll get a credit on your bill.
- A New York State sales tax exemption
- A 15-year property tax exemption
Now, let’s assume your average monthly electrical bill runs approximately $200. As long as your home has approximately 400 square feet of available shade-free roof space (facing south, ideally, but east or west will work well too), you’re good to go.
A 4,000-watt DC system, which is a mid-size range solar system, costs approximately $25,600. I can tell you that I recently bought my system for much less, but for this example let’s keep things on the conservative side. Once we deduct all the incentives, rebates, and tax credits I mentioned above, you are left with a net cost of $7,500.
A system this size will reduce your bills by 40 percent, leaving you with an annual savings of $1,650 per year or $41,000 over the life of the system. In simple mathematical terms, if you were to invest the $7,500, you will recoup your full investment in a matter of just over four years. Keep in mind, the minute the panels are turned on, they start putting money back into your pocket. You will see a return from day one!
As icing on the cake, if you decide to move before you recovered your investment, your property value will have increased by close to $20,000, leaving you with zero risk.
And let’s not forget that yummy cherry: your solar system is reducing your carbon footprint. How exactly? Well, by substituting buying energy from coal, nuclear, or oil with sunray energy, you are contributing to our environment with the equivalent of planting ¾ of an acre of trees each year! That’s quite a lot of manual labor that you just spared yourself, but you can feel awfully good about it and your children will thank you!
So, now what do you think? If the dollars make sense but are still a bit high for your comfort level, no problem — many contractors offer fantastic finance programs and third-party leasing options that you can take advantage of to reap the benefits of solar energy and not have to spend a dime out of pocket.
How did I do? Hopefully, I stood up to the challenge. I’m sure I will hear back from you.
If you live outside of the Five Town area, I can help you too, but with more than 3,000 utility providers across the United States, each with its own set of rules, regulations, rates and incentives, I would need to know where you live. With that information, I can generate a personalized report that outfits your specific parameters. You are welcome to visit www.EcoOutfitters.net and leave your details or come back in May for our official launch.
Before I leave you, I want to remind you that Earth Day just passed us on April 22. Even though it's over, take a moment and consider one action that will help the environment and try to add it to your daily routine. It doesn’t have to be installing solar panels on your roof — it could be as simple as closing the faucet while you brush your teeth.
The team at EcoOutfitters is bringing a solar program to a local Five Town school. I believe there is no better way to “pay it forward” than to teach our children how to grow up and have the tools to make healthy, clean, sustainable and responsible decisions. On May 3, children at the will learn the ins and outs of solar and sustainability. Stay tuned for some “solar talk from the mouth of babes.”
I hope everyone had a very happy Passover, Easter and Earth Day!
Let’s celebrate liberation, protect creation, and cherish our precious Earth! Until next time ... may the sun keep warming your heart!