Solar energy has currently got its share of both detractors and proponents, and the fight over solar energy has become an incredibly political one. For many, the fight splits right down party lines. The Right wing sees little or no point in investing in a relatively low-return energy source when we have (for now) relatively abundant (and relatively inexpensive considering worldwide energy costs) fossil and nuclear energy sources at our disposal. The Left, on the other hand, wants nothing more than society to eschew the use of nuclear and fossil fuels due to the environmental and health issues involved, not to mention the inherent lack of long-term sustainability of using such fuels. Of course, there are holes in both arguments, but for now, we don’t need to go over that. It would take too long. The question that we need to answer here is whether or not solar electricity might make sense to your family in the near future.
Clearly, this is a decision best made on a family level, since politicians will likely never be willing to come to agreement on whether to cut the cord on fossil fuel power. Fortunately, answering that question has become easier to answer in recent years, as solar technology has both increased in efficiency and decreased in price (relative to prices and efficiency when solar was first used to generate electricity.
So, how much could you save? That’s a tough question to answer, for obvious reasons, but think about it this way: You buy the system that might average $10,000 for installation, and that doesn’t include any available state or federal tax incentives. Once the system is installed and running, you should be pretty much “off the grid,” and the electric bill that you were paying will become the payments you make toward the solar system. Once the system is paid off, then you’re free and clear- no more electric bills for you. Hopefully, that should coincide nicely with a time in your life when you find that extra $100 or more very useful every month, retirement. Additionally, its important to remember that the payments you make to your solar system are fixed, while the price of energy is undoubtedly going to trend upward, particularly when coal is finally removed from service forever (It’ll happen eventually, the only question is when,) and higher-cost energy sources take its place.
So, you’re shielded from price increases, particularly if your energy usage doesn’t go up in the future, what other benefit is there? You may not necessarily want one of those big solar panels crowding up your back yard or your roof. The question then is how much are you willing to pay for the privilege of having that few cubic meters of grass to mow or roof to look at?
The arguments against electric company solar energy production make sense for now, but eventually the arguments will fall short. The equipment cost is expensive compared to the existing infrastructure we already have that is dedicated to coal and nuclear, but once that infrastructure is in place, the equipment cost will undoubtedly drop precipitously. Fortunately, it doesn’t cost nearly as much to make a solar decision on the family level, and it makes a much greater impact. Freeing yourself from the grid releases you from dependence on the power company, and will save you money over the course of your lifetime. Additionally, when you combine the added value you will build into your home and the existing tax incentives for the upgrade, it only makes good financial sense to cut the cord and go solar on a personal, family level.