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Advanced Ways to Be Green – #6

Posted Aug 04 2009 7:32pm

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Last week I posted the first five of 10 “Advanced” Ways to Be Green, following on 10 Easy Ways to Be Green, posted several weeks ago. Here is number six of the ten advanced eco-tips that can save you money, and improve the health of your family and the planet. I’ve decided to spread them out over several posts because the information is detailed and I know your time is precious. So here we go: 

Advanced Ways to Be Green #6

Lease Solar Panels for Your Home – Installing solar panels to generate your home electricity has many benefits:

  • Protects you from escalating energy costs – Electricity gets more expensive every year. Over the last 35 years, the average annual rate increase has been 6.5% (high energy users have seen substantially greater increases).
  • Supports clean energy – The average solar PV residential system (based on 5kW), would save nearly 175 tons of carbon dioxide over its 30-year lifespan, equivalent to removing 32 cars from the road. It takes approximately 4,487 new trees to absorb that much CO 2 produced by fossil fuels.
  • Adds value to your home – The value of a solar system is added to the appraised value of your property and does not increase your property taxes. Solar is one of the few home improvements that can be justified in terms of return on invested dollar.
  • Provides unlimited power - Solar is a true renewable and sustainable source of energy. Reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and produce your own electricity while reducing your carbon footprint. One of the side benefits is that with photovoltaic panels, homeowners have the ability to generate excess electricity during the day and sell it to the utility company through “net metering”, i.e., you run the meter backwards.
  • Reduce the need for additional power plants – Your utility company’s peak demand is during the day. Meeting peak demand is how utility companies justify more power plants. On the hottest days, the oldest, dirtiest power plants are cranked up. Through net metering, you’ll sell the output of the photovoltaic panels to the utility. With enough of us net metering, we will reduce the need for additional power plants that are only used to meet peak demand. That will protect the environment for everyone and help keep rates from rising too fast.
  • Rebates and tax credits are available – Various financial incentives are available from the State and Federal governments to encourage investment in solar energy.

Solar photovoltaic panels for your home are expensive, requiring up-front investments of $25,000 or higher. Even after tax rebates, it takes years for that investment to pay itself back to the homeowner in locally generated electricity. Fortunately, more and more states are authorizing solar leasing companies, making solar energy as affordable as your monthly electric bill!

With a solar lease, you lease photovoltaic panels for your home, hassle-free. Someone else will install them (and not charge you for it). Someone else will make sure the components all match. Someone else will maintain them. Someone else will take them down and put them back when you need a new roof. Someone else will even move them to your new house when you move. Since your electricity is virtually free, the monthly payments for solar leases are often lower than your current electricity bill.

Each state has its own rules regarding solar leasing programs, and there are several states now with incentive programs available, so check with your local Department of Energy to see what they offer. There are also many different national and local solar companies out there providing services with many different lease terms and fee schedules. Be sure to read the fine print on any lease and do your homework on any company you choose to do your installation. Here are a few national companies to get you started: (Though don’t forget to look up local companies in your state!)

Installing solar panels on your home can make a real difference in reducing your bills and the ecological damage our dependence on fossil fuels creates—which is not only important for the planet, but is absolutely vital for the health of our families and communities too. Thanks for doing your part.


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