Global warming, climate change, and the rising cost of conventional energy have become hot topics in the media, causing many people to explore possible alternative energy sources. Whether you’re driven by an altruistic motive to do your part to save the planet or a bottom-line motive to do what you can to save money, choosing to go green can make a big difference.
No matter the reason, savvy homeowners around the country are looking for ways to fuel their homes more efficiently. While we all enjoy the comfort of living in a climate-controlled, well-lit space, fully wired with the latest technology and modern conveniences, energy costs can bust the budget if we aren’t careful.
Few people are willing to sacrifice cooling off in the summertime, warming up in the winter, or switching on the lights or their favorite device, just to save some cash or the long-term sustainability of the planet. The good news is, alternative energy sources such as solar power can be a win-win option, lowering both your expenses and your environmental footprint.
How Does Solar Power Work?
If you’ve ever seen solar panels installed on the rooftops of homes, you’ve had a glimpse at how residential solar technology works. When the sun shines on the solar panels, the cells in the panel absorb protons from the sunlight. The protons then create an electric field that causes electricity to flow. This process is called photovoltaics, or PV.
How Can I Get Started Using Solar Power at Home?
Your house is likely to be a good fit for installing solar panels if your roof is sturdy, with a suitable slope, and is in the sunlight, away from too much shade. You can contact a local company that installs solar panels to have them do an assessment of your home for potential solar power viability, or start by exploring solar mapping resources provided by the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.
With advancing technology, installing solar panels may soon become a DIY project, but for now, it’s best to work with a technician certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
Can I Save Money by Going Solar?
After researching the expense of installing solar panels, you might be wondering if going solar can really save you money. The short answer is yes, but you will need to consider a number of factors to determine how much money you can save.
How much money you can save as a homeowner depends on the electricity rates set by your local utility company versus the cost of powering your home with solar energy, as well as how much your utility company will compensate you for the excess energy your solar panels generate and send back to the grid.
In addition to looking at local utility billing, your savings will depend on the size of your residential solar energy system, the amount of electricity your household consumes, and the costs associated with financing your system.
Keep in mind, in most cases, you will also be able to take advantage of financial and tax breaks designed to incentivize consumers to use renewable energy. Plus, your savings can be compounded by the general energy efficiency of your home, windows, and appliances. Additionally, installing a solar energy system will likely increase the value of your home, providing a positive return on your investment.
Although installing a solar energy system comes at a cost, the power produced by the panels is ultimately free. You may have some minimal ongoing expenses, but your household energy bills will be reduced dramatically, leading to significant financial savings over the long term.
What Are the Environmental Benefits of Solar Power?
Even if your primary concern is the green in your wallet, going green for the planet is an added bonus of choosing solar power.
By using renewable energy rather than conventional forms of energy, you will be reducing your carbon footprint. This means your household energy usage will produce less carbon and other potentially harmful pollutants. Having lower emissions means your home will be releasing fewer toxins into the atmosphere; so if cleaner air and water are important to you and your family, solar panels are one way to make a positive impact.
All things considered, choosing solar power is a good way to save the earth while saving money as well. This eco-friendly investment will most likely be worth it and pay off over time.
John J. Diak, CFP® is the Principal & Client Wealth Manager at Oatley & Diak, LLC in Parker, Colorado. He assists clients through many difficult lifestyle changes such as business downturns, retirement planning, divorce, the death of a spouse, and family estate issues among others. Oatley & Diak, LLC is a family-run registered investment advisory (RIA) firm that provides clients with investment management and financial planning services in a hands-on, intimate environment. Learn more about them at oatleydiak.com.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.