November 29, 2016
Solar systems are exploding onto the community scene today like never before. In moments like these there is a potential for myths to spread equally quickly, however most of the barriers that people think exist to enjoying the benefits of solar energy actually do not exist at all. Below are four of these barriers.
1. Solar energy is expensive so if I do not have a high enough electricity bill I cannot benefit from it.
For most people, the mortgage or rent is the greatest monthly expense by a long shot. That said, a significant difference between mortgage and electricity bill is that the electricity charge rates increase even when paid diligently. Mortgages do not do that. If this sounds familiar it is because it is. Rent also increases even when paid diligently. The reason for these things boils down to a simple word: ownership. There is power in ownership. When I do not take ownership, I am exposed to rate hikes whether they take the form of rent or electricity bills. When I use anything on a regular basis such as cars, electricity, internet access, living space, etc I should think about owning in the long run if possible because renting it will certainly cost more over time. Besides the fact that over the last forty years solar energy has become much more accessible from a price standpoint, having a small electricity bill does not mean it is a bad idea to own my energy. It simply means that owning my energy will cost me less than what it costs the next guy. For solar systems meeting needs at various sizes is particularly simple because of the scalability of the solar array. A smaller system has lower equipment and labor costs. The truth is that there are no electricity bills that cannot be significantly reduced by a solar energy system.
2. I should not invest in solar energy if I will move in the next five years.
A well designed solar system in North Carolina generally pays off in less than 10 years while having a lifespan that exceeds 25 years. As an addition to a home, solar systems have the same effect on the selling price of a home as other home improvements since the next owner will benefit from it. In fact in a Berkeley National Laboratory study, it was found that solar systems can increase the value of a home by as much as $15000 and the newer the system the more value added to the home.
3. Solar systems are high risk.
Investments come with varying amounts of risk. The annualized rate of return of well designed solar systems are between 10%~15% and are essentially independent of the state of the economy. There are no investments that offer these rates of return for starting deposits of less than $10000. Solar system owners incur almost no risk.
4. Only environmentalists do it.
Environmentalism involves a great deal of talking. Buying a solar system is more about doing, because what is good for the planet is also good for you and your finances in the long term. To invest in solar energy you do not have to march, hold up signs, or organize rallies. You simply buy it and let the technology do its job. That is what Living Power means. Solar energy alone does not address all of the world’s environmental challenges but it does reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact a small solar system can in a single year keep an equivalent amount of CO₂ out of the air as 70 trees or 2.4 acres of forest land. Leveraging solar energy also reduces emissions of other harmful fossil fuel-based pollutants into the air. That is real, tangible, and practical good that does not require debates, passage of laws, or the homeowner or business owner to so much as lift a finger.
November 1, 2016
It’s Halloween, read this to get the spooks!
My mind occasionally drifts to a dystopian world – a world as possible as the one we live in. In this world the individual has been trampled to oblivion. To the damnation of doing for self, people must rely on interest groups and institutions to accomplish everything for them from entertainment to cleaning. Even energy presents little options for personal involvement and autonomy besides maybe turning off unused lights. It sweeps in like the Great Depression – slowly then instantly, the last ounces of wealth are being squeezed from families through subscriptions of all kinds covering virtually every possible thing that they may may take interest in addressing on their own – grocery delivery, personal transportation, internet access, laundry concierge, television, home cleaning, library, digital music, telephone, rent/mortgage, cellphone service, sports, etc. The unceremonious disintegration of the autonomy of the individual paves the way to the generification and deadening of the population.
Spooky, but thankfully we do not live in that world, right? We live in a world that abounds us opportunity for freedom – so we grocery shop on our own time, and most of us own our vehicles. But what about energy? The choice here is do we continue to rent our power bit by bit in a subscription format every month? That is a lot like permanently renting a car isn’t it? Let’s exercise choice again, and choose what puts money back into our pockets. Energy is a lot like choice. It is yours. Own it.