Top 10 benefits of Solar Energy
There are many reasons why homeowners go solar, but improving the environment and cutting energy costs are the most common. Many people are aware that solar is a great home efficiency upgrade and are eager to reduce their carbon footprint while also improving property value.
Whether your motivations for going solar are economic, environmental, or personal, this sizable list of solar power benefits will have something for everyone. Here are the top ten reasons why solar energy is good for your home and more popular than ever in the United States.
#1 Drastically reduce or even eliminate your electric bills
Whether you’re a homeowner, business, or nonprofit, electricity costs can make up a large portion of your monthly expenses. With a solar panel system, you’ll generate free power for your system’s entire 25+ year lifecycle. Even if you don’t produce 100 percent of the energy you consume, solar will reduce your utility bills and you’ll still save a lot of money.
#2 Earn a great return on your investment
Solar panels aren’t an expense – they’re one of the best ways to invest, with returns rivaling those of more traditional investments like stocks and bonds. Thanks to substantial electricity bill savings, the average American homeowner pays off their solar panel system in seven to eight years and sees an ROI of 20 percent or more.
#3 Protect against rising energy costs
One of the most clear cut benefits of solar panels is the ability to hedge utility prices. In the past ten years, residential electricity prices have gone up by an average of three percent annually. By investing in a solar energy system now, you can fix your electricity rate and protect against unpredictable increases in electricity costs. If you’re a business or homeowner with fluctuating cash flow, going solar also helps you better forecast and manage your expenses.
#4 Increase your property value
Multiple studies have found that homes equipped with solar energy systems have higher property values and sell more quickly than non-solar homes. Appraisers are increasingly taking solar installations into consideration as they value homes at the time of a sale, and as homebuyers become more educated about solar, demand for properties equipped with solar panel systems will continue to grow.
#5 Boost U.S. energy independence
The sun is a near-infinite source of energy and a key component of achieving energy independence in the United States. By increasing our capacity to generate electricity from the sun, we can also insulate our country from price fluctuations in global energy markets.
#6 Create jobs and help your local economy
According to The Solar Foundation, the solar industry added jobs at a rate nearly 12 times faster than the overall U.S. economy in 2015, representing 1.2 percent of all jobs in the country. This growth is expected to continue. Because solar-related jobs tend to be higher paying and cannot be outsourced, they are a significant contributor to the U.S. economy.
#7 Protect the environment
Solar is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Buildings are responsible for 38 percent of all carbon emissions in the U.S., and going solar can significantly decrease that number. A typical residential solar panel system will eliminate three to four tons of carbon emissions each year—the equivalent of planting over 100 trees annually.
#8 Demonstrate your commitment to sustainability
Sustainability and corporate social responsibility are important components of an organization’s culture and values. They also produce bottom line results. Increasingly, consumers and communities are recognizing and rewarding businesses that choose to operate responsibly. Businesses are finding that “green” credentials are a powerful driver of consumer purchasing decisions, creating goodwill and improving business results.
#9 Increase employee morale
Just like consumers, employees have a demonstrated appreciation for their employers’ commitment to operating responsibility. Employees share in the success and contributions of their organizations. Companies that care about their community and environment tend to have lower turnover rates, more engaged employees, and higher levels of morale.
#10 Stay competitive
Companies quickly are realizing the social and economic benefits of adopting solar power. As early adopters pull ahead of the competition, many companies are exploring solar power as a way to keep up.
Top 5 Reasons to be Energy Efficient
Energy efficiency – doing more with less energy – benefits you, your country, and the world. The benefits of energy efficiency are numerous. But the top five reasons that people, companies and governments choose to use energy more efficiently are:
- Energy efficiency saves you money.
- Energy efficiency improves the economy.
- Energy efficiency is good for the environment.
- Energy efficiency improves national security.
- Energy efficiency enhances quality of life.
These reasons are in no particular order because each person’s priorities are unique. Read on to see which reasons to be “EE” are most important to you.
#1 Energy efficiency saves you money
The average U.S. household spends $5,550/year on energy. But buying energy-efficient appliances, making energy-efficient home improvements, and taking energy-efficient actions every day can save hundreds of dollars.
- Buying ENERGY STAR appliances saves up to 30% on electricity bills. For instance, a new ENERGY STAR-rated refrigerator saves $165 compared to a regular model in its lifetime.
- Replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient halogens, CFLs or LEDs saves 30-80% on energy bills. That adds up to annual savings of $50 to more than $100.
- Taking daily, energy-efficient actions while you’re at home, at work and on the go saves energy and money. Washing clothes in cold water can save $63/year, and keeping your tires inflated can save $61/year.
#2 Energy efficiency improves the economy
While energy efficiency helps you save at home and at the pump, it helps businesses and city, state and federal governments save on a much bigger scale.
- Saving billions: Overall, energy efficiency is saving the American government, its citizens and businesses more than $500 billion a year in avoided energy costs.
- Creating jobs: In addition to saving money, energy efficiency projects (like building improvements and infrastructure repairs) create jobs. In 2010 alone, energy efficiency accounted for more than 830,000 jobs nationwide.
- Spurring innovation: Industry leaders make energy-efficient innovations, and energy-efficient policies lead to breakthroughs among manufacturers. For instance, standards that started in 2012 requiring light bulbs to be at least 25% more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs spawned an array of new lighting products. From LED streetlights to flame-shaped, dimmable candelabra CFLs, energy-efficient lights are just as pleasing to the eye as the old bulbs but use far less energy.
#3 Energy efficiency is good for the environment
It’s a no-brainer: When we use less energy, we save precious natural resources and cut down on pollution.
- Saving energy resources: The United States uses 56% less energy today than if we didn’t have energy-efficient technologies and policies. That’s 52 quads of energy saved per year – the same amount of energy needed to power 12 states for a year. If we didn’t have energy efficiency, we’d have to produce or import energy sources like oil, natural gas, and coal. So, energy efficiency helps us keep more resources on the earth longer.
- Avoiding pollution: From power plants to cars, consuming energy can produce emissions that harm our environment. But investments in energy efficiency across the biggest sectors of our economy could abate up to 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually – that’s equal to taking all U.S. cars and trucks of the road for one year.
#4 Energy efficiency improves national security
Energy efficiency safeguards our nation by decreasing the overall demand for energy, and therefore the need to import and transport fossil fuels.
- Enhancing energy independence: Using fewer of America’s energy resources – like oil to power our vehicles – means we don’t need to depend so much on foreign nations. With energy efficiency, we save energy resources for future generations to use.
Saving money for defense: As the armed forces improve the energy efficiency of their equipment, buildings and general practices, they save money that can be invested directly in defense programs.
- Keeping our troops safe: The armed forces need fuel to supply their troops, but battleground supply missions can be dangerous. In fact, 80% of on-the-ground supply delivery missions to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are for fuel, and (on average) one soldier dies for about every 50 of those refueling convoys. In 2011 alone, there were 1,100 attacks on fuel convoys. Using electric and hybrid vehicles, energy-efficient generators and other energy-saving measures mean fewer convoys, and fewer convoys mean fewer casualties.
#5 Energy efficiency enhances quality of life
You might not see it, but you can feel it: Energy efficiency improves quality of life.
- More comfortable: Notice how your insulated home keeps AC inside during the summer, and heat in during the winter? Or how you rarely need to change your energy-efficient light bulbs? That’s energy efficiency making your environment more enjoyable.
- More productive: Businesses can improve productivity, as well as the bottom line, by taking advantage of energy efficiency in office buildings and production processes.
- More accessible: Residents of cities that employ smart growth technologies and transportation systems have an easier time of getting around – and getting consistent access to electricity.