Everyone knows the importance of embracing renewable energy for the good of the planet and for future generations. But did you realise that solar panels can also save you thousands of dollars right now, and also add value to your home? No wonder so many people are choosing solar as the perfect retirement investment.
Most people do not realise that solar panels constitute one of the safest investment options available. And even better, you will be playing your part in helping to save the planet at the same time. Here we take a look at how going solar could help you, your bank balance and your family.
The most obvious benefit is that having solar panels will reduce, or in some cases even eliminate your electricity bill. As you might expect, the exact level of savings depends on how much sun you enjoy, and this varies from state to state. As a broad guideline, however, most investors see a reduction of $80-$100 per month in their electricity costs.
In some states, you might even be able to use your panels to generate additional income through Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs).
Increasing the value of your property
With the financial benefit that they bring, it is no surprise that solar panels make your home more desirable to potential buyers. A 2011 study carried out on behalf of the US Department of Energy identified a $17,000 premium on the value of homes that are fitted with solar panels.
Given the improvements in efficiency and the heightened awareness of the benefits that solar power can bring over the past five years, there can be little doubt that the figure is even larger today.
Hedging against price rises
Imagine the comfort of seeing yet another price rise in utilities announced and sitting back safe in the knowledge that it will not affect you. Every year we see utility companies increase their prices and this is forecast to continue for the years to come.
Doing what’s right
Fossil fuels are not going to last forever, a fact that even the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) did not hesitate to acknowledge in a 2016 bulletin. As we move into retirement, it is important to know that we are playing our part in leaving the planet in no worse a condition than we found it for future generations to enjoy.
Low maintenance and long-lasting
Solar panels require very little attention once they are installed. This is another reason they are so popular with retirees, who might like the idea of some other alternative energy option, such as a wind turbine, but are put off by the ongoing care and maintenance that they demand.
Panels simply require periodic inspection and cleaning and, where necessary, a change of anti-freeze solution every five years.
Manufacturers estimate a lifetime of up to 30 years, but given that there are many panels from the 1970s and 80s that are still giving excellent trouble-free service, even this could be conservative.
Solar Energy Systems
There are two main choices available for domestic energy production, photovoltaic and thermal systems. Which one is right for you depends on a number of considerations, including your overall energy requirements and the financial outlay that you want to make.
This system uses photovoltaic (PV) panels to convert the sun’s radiation into electricity. PV panels have evolved enormously over the past decade as technology has improved and companies have ploughed millions into research and development.
The panels use solar cells, which absorb the sunlight and form an electrical current through a process known as the “photoelectric effect.” This current is fed into your home’s electrical system.
If you are in an area with good amounts of sunlight, a modern PV system can provide enough electricity to meet most if not all the demands of an energy-efficient home. In certain circumstances, it can even generate a surplus, which can potentially be sold to your utility company if your state allows for net metering.
If you decide that a PV solar power system requires too much of a financial outlay, a great alternative is to install a thermal solar system to heat your water.
These systems have been providing a cost-effective way of saving energy bills for decades. Indeed, there are thousands of thermal systems that were installed as long ago as the 1970s that are still providing trouble-free service.
You can also use a thermal system to heat a swimming pool or to provide hot water for distribution into domestic heating systems.
With a thermal system, the water heater is connected directly to your plumbing system rather than the electrical supply. Although its applications are more limited, the price of purchase and installation is significantly lower than a PV system.