by Jeff Kubina
Over the years, due to increased awareness and unrest with current conditions, solar energy has garnered more attention. It is being looked at as a supplement, and even a replacement, for the fossil fuels that currently power much of our homes, businesses, and vehicles. One of the factors keeping solar energy from making more headway is its perceived cost versus benefit. There are some things to consider when determining how cost effective it is to switch to solar energy.
Some businesses and homeowners are leery of the initial cost of installing a solar energy system. The long-term impact, however, is what needs to be scrutinized. Tax credits and incentives of varying sizes will place the cost of a solar energy system that will capably power a home or office building around the $ 2,500 to $ 82,000 range. That is a large range of figures, but it takes into account homes and businesses alike. Fossil fuels would cost around $ 60,000 to burn over the next 20 years, so it can be seen that solar energy on average is comparable. After 20 years, though, solar energy makes up ground because it costs nothing to collect sun rays. Setup and occasional maintenance are the only costs a solar energy system induces.
Simply reducing, not necessarily eliminating, the use of fossil (dirty) fuels has its benefits. Some homes don’t have the luxury of being situated in a sunny clime or receive direct sunlight, but a home with supplemented with solar panels will still experience lower electric bills. Businesses and homeowners can therefore create a hybrid system that greatly lowers energy costs. The size of the house and number of household members dictates the amount of energy used, but a solar system supplying only 10% of the total usage will makes its presence felt by reducing the fossil fuel used.
Once, solar panels themselves were quite costly. Just as with any technology, as development has improved, the cost of panels has diminished recently. The frightening price attached to them is not nearly as steep as it once was, making them more attractive. The typical price of solar panels is $ 9.50 per watt to $ 11.00 per watt based on the material used to make them. If you are looking for flat plate collectors to heat 40 to 80 gallons of water per day, you can expect to pay $ 2,000 to $ 4,000.
Solar energy systems really don’t cost much more than any moderate home improvement project. Solar’s long-term cost effectiveness will depend on how much energy a household or business requires and how much it cost to buy it initially. If the primary cost of implementation is reasonable, there is a good chance that solar will be more cost effective than dirty fuels.
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