Part of being environmentally conscious involves being mindful of your energy consumption and carbon footprint. Equipping your home with solar panels is an ecologically friendly way to obtain energy and live off the grid. More and more homeowners are switching to renewable energy sources to reduce their carbon footprint, save on their energy bills, and receive tax incentives.
Although solar panels are generally easy to install, the initial cost is relatively high, and it will take several years to get a return on your investment. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, two million solar installations are projected to be installed by the end of 2018. Although solar panels are becoming cheaper and more readily available, some drawbacks come along with the many benefits. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of solar power.
Pros of Solar Power
To help offset the cost of installing solar panels, you can deduct a percentage of the cost from your taxes. This solar power credit is known as the investment tax credit (ITC). In addition to the amount you can deduct from your federal taxes, certain states and municipalities also give tax credits and cash rebates.
Relying on solar energy instead of energy from the grid will save you money in the long run. The amount of savings depends on your location. Project Sunroof has an online calculator that lets you enter your address and see your savings over a twenty-year period. For example, in the city of Des Moines, IA, the average home will save $5,000 over twenty years by using solar power.
Reduces your Carbon Footprint
Switching to solar power reduces your dependency on fossil fuels and helps reduce carbon emissions. According to this study, concentrated solar power has a carbon dioxide footprint of only 20 grams per kilowatt-hour. Using solar energy instead of energy from coal or natural gas reduces the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere and may help halt global warming.
Cons of Solar Power
Expensive Initial Investment
The price for a standard solar panel system is about $13,188. Keep in mind that federal and state tax incentives can help lower the cost of the initial investment. Prices for solar panels are continuing to drop, so if you wait a few more years to purchase one, you may be able to get one for under $10,000.
Uses a lot of Roof Space
Solar panels take up a lot of space. Depending on the layout of your roof, you may not be able to fit as many panels as you’d like, or you may have to get creative. A solar panel is usually 3.25 by 5.4 feet and will generate 265 watts of electricity. If you do the math, you have to cover your entire roof to be able to produce a decent amount of energy.
Dependent on the Weather
If you live in an area that’s prone to cloudy days, your solar panels will not be as efficient, and you may have to use the grid for energy. On a cloudy day, solar panels only produce about one third the amount of energy than a sunny day. For solar panels to operate at maximum efficiency, there should be no clouds blocking the sun so that the rays can hit the panels directly.
The Bottom Line
Solar power has both its benefits and drawbacks as a form of alternative energy. While it may be expensive to install, there’s a lot to be said for the positive environmental impact that embracing solar power could have on the world. Despite potential drawbacks, it’s one energy source that’s worth considering.
Installing solar panels isn’t the only way to be mindful of the environment. Go green with your shopping habits by browsing through our collection of sustainable, vegan products at All Ethical.
Featured image via McWhinney Development
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