The obvious reason to switch to solar power would seem to be to cut our dependence on oil, but solar power experts say that it's more likely to alleviate our dependence on coal, which is polluting our air and water at a much faster rate than oil. And oil is not our main source of electric power generation, which is really what we need to run our daily lives comfortably.
"Obviously, putting solar on your house saves coal," Seth Masia, editor of Solar Today magazine told HousingWatch. (The Department of Energy says that more than half the electricity in the U.S. comes from coal.)
"Coal-burning plants are still polluting our air and water," Masia says. "Coal is just as, if not more destructive, than oil. Putting the panels on our house will ultimately reduce our dependance on coal."
The thought of installing the panels, which normally would send a homeowner into a panic due to high cost, is now becoming easier through leasing programs, which are becoming more readily available. A Colorado resident, Masia currently pays $100 a month for his electric bill. A solar lease could reduce that to $70 a month, which would be a considerable savings to him. SolarCity is one of the largest companies at the moment leasing solar power.
"With $30 per month savings that's $360 per year, which is $7,200 over the 20-year life of the system or term of the lease," Masia said. "In the real world, if the cost of electricity rises 2 percent annually and your monthly payment remains fixed at $70 per month, you'll save $8,750 over the life of the lease."
Transportation is really where consumers should be looking when thinking about reducing oil consumption, and electric cars are something everyone should consider.
"Chevrolet and Nissan are introducing their electric cars this fall, and Volkswagen and Ford in 2011, so you're going to see plenty of them on the roads in the next three years," Masia said. "So if you have a solar system on your house, that provides the gas for your car."
The $9,000 investment on a solar system will more than pay for itself through the electric car, which eliminates the need to buy gasoline. And as a longterm investment, it will also contribute to paying off the system.
Another solar-powered investment to consider is a solar water heater. Solar heaters can provide all the hot water you need in the summer and about 50 percent to 60 percent in the winter. In parts of the country where the sun is not as prevalent, a backup gas water heater might be needed for an early morning shower. For everything else, like running the dishwasher or washer/dryer for laundry, running them in the evening eliminates needing to use any backup.
Solar can handle it all.
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