As I said last time about solar power, I was a bit shocked. Let’s push some numbers. We invest $10,000 for ten panels that take up most of my roof and really upsets the homeowners association. For that my electricity bill goes down by 13%. Assuming a $200 monthly bill, the bill would go down by $26 for an annual savings of $312. Using the old payback formula, the solar investment would pay for itself in; let’s see here, $10,000 divided by the annual savings of $312 results in a payback of…. 32 years. I won’t be around in 32 years, I don’t think, so why bother?
But I soldiered on. There has to be something changing to make being green make sense. I then asked the salesman, “But, of course, the price for panels has to be coming down with all the investments and awareness of solar? Right?” His answer, “Wrong, the price is going up.” Seems that there is so much demand that the price is going up because demand is outstripping supply.
Ok, how about tax breaks? I keep hearing about what Congress is going to do, certainly they are on top of this. Yep, said the salesman, you get a 30% credit. A credit, not a deduction, which means my taxes go down by 30% of $10,000 for a cut in the price of $3,000. Now, we’re talking. Not so fast says the salesman. The 30% credit is good up to $2,000. That is the end of that.
Now, I’m getting frustrated. If the credit is only good up to $2,000, who is buying these things besides movie stars? The short answer—Businesses. Businesses who go solar get the 30% tax break but it is unlimited so if the panels needed to run a plant cost $200,000 they get a tax credit of $60,000. An added bonus—they can depreciate the whole investment in five years. Next time you buy a pair of boots, think solar—the Nocona boot company just switched over and got the credit.
I never give up. How about wind power? That really makes sense in Texas, just ask Boone Pickens. Yep, says the salesman, for the same investment as solar you would pick up a lot more energy plus the added bonus of a 30 to 100 foot tower sitting in my backyard. Try explaining that to the homeowners association. They won’t go for it.
I shot back at the salesman, “You guys have a unit on your web site that doesn’t stick up over the roof and is attached to the house. I could go for that.” He looked a little blank, then tells me he thought that was taken off the site. Why? Seems it doesn’t work. Darn. Finally something I could get really excited about and it doesn’t work. Just my luck.
I almost gave up. One final question—what about a whole attic fan? His response—noisy. Well, not really, I found out. Seems there has been a lot of work on this and I’m looking into an insulated, quiet fan that mounts in the ceiling, draws air up through the house, costs about $600 and projected to cut air conditioning costs by 30%. Requirements are wind and air at night that is cooler than the inside air. I got both.
This may turn out to be another dead end but at least it doesn’t have a 32-year payback period. Will let you know how it turns out. It’s not easy being green.