The economic and environmental case for going green
This Earth Day, the need for environmental sustainability is more urgent than ever. Global climate change — driven by greenhouse gas emissions — is threatening our water supplies, our food supply, our coastal cities, and our economy while putting thousands of species at risk of extinction.
But, on this Earth Day, there’s also good news. It’s never been easier or more economical to transition to emissions-free renewable energy.
Every hour and fifteen minutes, enough solar energy hits the earth’s surface to meet all of humanity’s power needs for an entire year. It’s up to us to start harnessing that energy by installing solar technology at our homes and workplaces.
Here are ten (out of many) reasons to go solar today:
Reason 1: Solar saves you money. A solar installation is not an expense but an investment. Over time, panels pay for themselves — reducing your electric bills considerably and ultimately contributing to your household’s self-sufficiency. Even if you consume more power than you produce, your utility bills are still likely to be noticeably lower.
Reason 2: Solar energy helps save the climate. Installing a solar system at a typical American home can reduce three to four tons of carbon emissions per year. That’s equivalent to planting more than 100 trees. With homes and buildings accounting for more than a third of US carbon emissions, transitioning to solar is one of the best ways to cut your carbon footprint.
Reason 3: Solar can increase your property value. The average installed solar system can add about $4 per watt to the value of your home. Given that the average home in New Mexico needs a 5 kilowatt system, that translates to $20,000 in added value to your property.
Reason 4: Solar protects you from volatile energy costs. Energy prices are notoriously unpredictable. Most analysts predict significant increases in prices for utility power in the years ahead. Installing solar adds predictability to energy bills, making it easier to manage your budget and plan for the future.
Reason 5: Solar strengthens our overall economy. As researchers at the University of Massachusetts have found, a given investment in the green economy creates about three times as many jobs as a similar investment in fossil fuel development. There are now more than 200,000 people working in America’s solar economy, including more than 1,800 in New Mexico. Green energy is one of our society’s leading opportunities for economic growth.
Reason 6: Solar helps create US energy independence. Because we consume more oil than we produce, America has to import significant amounts from abroad, contributing to our massive trade deficit and enmeshing our country in the complicated politics of the Middle East and other regions. Going solar makes life simpler: when we harness the energy of the sun, we’re less dependent on imported fossil fuels from the rest of the world.
Reason 7: Tax credits make solar a bargain. Thanks to the 30% Federal Income Tax Credit (ITC) purchasing solar for your home is incredibly affordable. If you put solar on your business, you may be able to depreciate the solar equipment as well. Check with your tax professional and see if you can reap the tax rewards of solar for your home or business.
Reason 8: There are many options for financing solar. You can lower your energy costs whether you lease or buy solar panels. While the decision depends on your preferences and financial situation, the range of available options ensure that you can make a smart, customized solar transition regardless of your income level.
Reason 9: Costs for solar technologies are at record lows. Thanks to unprecedented growth, technological innovations, and smart public policies, the cost of solar energy has fallen to half of what it was in 2008 and an astounding one hundred times less than what it was in 1978. With global demand growing steadily, now is a good time to go solar.
Reason 10: Going Solar sets a good example. The advantages of solar are contagious: when you put up panels, your neighbors and businesses around you gain awareness of the possibility of going green. This is how environmental solutions, cost savings, and energy independence take hold.