IS SOLAR ENERGY RIGHT FOR YOU?
Today many building and business owners are evaluating “green” and/or “sustainable” products. Some in an effort to reduce costs, while others are interested in reducing their carbon footprint. Each year more options for “green” and “sustainable” products and services become available and become more affordable and efficient. Certain businesses or building owners may be interested in sustainable exterior property improvements such as native landscaping, bio-swales, green roofs and pervious pavement, while others may consider solar panels, geothermal and LED lighting (interior and exterior) as they aim to reduce energy dependence and environmental impacts.
Solar Electric Energy Systems are an increasingly common way to reduce energy dependence by using solar panels to convert sunlight into usable energy.
When evaluating the value of a Solar Electric Energy System, you must consider your unique needs, financial or ethical reasons you would invest in alternative energy, your individual energy requirements and the availability of local, state or federal energy incentives. Companies providing Electric Energy Systems evaluate your building/property energy needs, including reviewing energy bills and building or property sizes. Based on this data and the expected utility rate increases over time, an annual utility savings can be generated. Data on property/building size is also used to generate the cost of purchasing and installing a Solar Electric Energy System.
Once property or building needs and system costs are determined potential tax credits or government incentives can be evaluated. Incentives can be between 15-30% of a total project cost depending on location. The need for financing an energy system must also be factored into the investment payback period, as well as, the value that you place on priorities such as energy dependence and carbon footprint reductions. Companies providing Energy Systems can provide equivalents on the elimination of CO2, such as number of trees that would have to be planted to reduce the carbon footprint, the number of driving miles that would have to be reduced, the equivalent in recyclable material, and the reduction in pounds of coal burned, to appeal to certain owners.
Determining if the financial investment into a sustainable energy system is worthwhile may be more complicated. Essentially you must determine if the payback can be achieved over the life of the system. Assumptions on utility rates and utility rate increases must be made as well as assumptions on the amount of potential excess energy that can be generated by a system. If an Electric Energy System or other type of “green” system generates more energy than is necessary there may be opportunities to sell the “credits” or excess energy. As the value or cost of energy increases, so does the value of the excess energy.
There are numerous financial and scientific evaluations that go into consideration when determining the value of investing in a Solar Electric Energy System or other energy reduction options. Your energy goals must be evaluated before making a decision on alternative energy solutions. Solar Electric Energy is just one way to energy dependence. There are other systems that might also be a good fit for you. Look for future posts on other sustainable energy systems.