The EIA (US Energy Information Administration) study in 2017 showed that the United States was responsible for producing over 3.48 trillion pounds of CO2 while generating the electricity it used. Another 3.1 trillion pounds of CO2 was emitted by our vehicles. To get an idea of how much this is, it is the equivalent of 656 million triaxle dump trucks of soot!! This is equal to 6.77 million acres of land…larger than the entire state of Maryland!!!
Whether you believe in “Climate Change” or not, these numbers are a strong argument for the fact that we are polluting our environment at an unprecedented level. Unfortunately, between big oil, big government and big utilities, we Americans are constantly being told that “solutions” are being worked on. In fact, Mobil-Exxon has a national ad that convincingly suggests that they are working on a process that produces tremendous amounts of electrical power while reducing emissions. If this were the case then, basically, Flubber, the magical energy substance invented by Jerry Lewis in the famous movie, is real and, not surprisingly, we’d have to throw out Einstein’s Theory of Relativity completely!
No, there are no magic solutions to carbon based energy and its’ destructive emissions. The fact is, there is always a carbon footprint left whenever a non-renewable fuel is consumed. And, the fewer the emissions emitted, the less efficient the power source is. For example: In 1980, during the famous energy crisis and gasoline rationing, I bought a diesel Rabbit that got about 54 miles per gallon. The same car today gets 43 miles per gallon, 25% less efficient. Since a gallon of fuel produces about 19 pounds of CO2 per gallon used, essentially, today’s “less emission” car is producing just as much CO2 as it did almost 40 years ago!!
One of the solutions to reduce carbon emissions substantially is solar power. Today the technology is advanced enough to where solar is no more expensive than most people’s average monthly electric bill. The facts show that a solar system for someone’s home can be financed for 7 years at pretty close to what their monthly electric bill is. I believe that most people do not know this. They must not because if they did and, knew how much CO2 their home produces each year (and average of 16,000 pounds per year), then they would install solar immediately. Most home systems can be installed in a day or two and the average cost is about $20,000, before taking the 30% tax credit (it will expire in 1 ½ years from now).
So, how would changing to solar impact our environment?
Of course there is no power at night and, minimal power generated on rainy days (even though there is always some power generated on rainy days). However, with “net zero metering”, a service that most all power companies are required to offer, typical systems are designed to over produce power on sunny days to compensate for cloudy and night time hours. The power companies simply track the power you produce and credit you, selling back the evening and cloudy day power at the current rates. Most power companies do not pay current rates for excess power above and beyond your total usage.
Since I live in Florida most of the year, lets’ consider what converting to solar for the homes, condos and townhouses would mean to our environment. With 9 million homes averaging 16,000 pounds of CO2 for their electric needs, there are 144 billion pounds of CO2 produced each year. This would be equivalent to 14.4 million dump trucks of dirt…enough to circle the earth 5 times!!
Can Florida solar power save me money?
As was mentioned earlier, the monthly cost to finance a home solar system for 7 years is about equal to the average monthly electric bill. But, how can having solar “save” me money, is the question. Here are the facts. 1) Most solar systems are good to work for over 25 years with a small drop in efficiency of about 10%. If your electric bill averages $150/month then, after 7 years you will realize a savings of $1800 per year or, $27,000 over the lifespan of the system. 2) Rate increases on utility bills are nationally more than 3.5%/year. This will mean that the average $150/month electric bill will be a staggering $354/month, at the end of 25 years. Again, after 7 years your electricity bill will not increase at all, saving more than $4,235 per year in year 25! 3) Solar electric systems will increase the value of your home. While reducing your carbon footprint to effectively “zero” you also will be adding value to your home. The National Board of Realtors estimated that a home with electric solar will increase in value at least the amount of the investment. The National Association of Appraisers have indicated that solar systems can increase the home value more than the amount invested because the systems are good for 25 plus years, making them an asset on the home resale.
Solar is complicated and hard to install, right?
Most reputable Florida solar installation companies can take care of all aspects of your solar system, including financing. Our 528 panel system on our 44,000 sq. ft. warehouse took just 3-4 phone calls, 3-4 signatures, no money down and, less than 2 months from conception to completion. We now are saving over $1500/month in electricity and have prevented over 580,000 pounds of C)2 from going into our atmosphere (58 semi trucks of dirt!!)
Rumors and misconceptions
The internet is full of stories that are simply not true, concerning solar systems. One really bizarre story came from a public hearing at a local town in a “Southern” state and that was that a solar farm in their community might cause “plants to not get the sun they need” and that there would be “holes in the atmosphere from the sun being sucked up by the system”. Of course these are bizarre and beyond rationale but, many people do come up with fears that are not warranted.
The fact is that solar power offers 100% clean electricity and it has no known disadvantages. No harmful health issues, almost zero chance of fire (you are more likely to have your house hit by lightning several times than have an electrical fire), and almost zero maintenance (you may want to just brush off some dirt every few years).
While writing this essay I asked my wife her thoughts on solar and, what she thought the number one reason someone would move to put solar on their home. She very quickly said, “Save money”. I asked her “what about the environment” and her answer was that most people probably feel that, what they would do would be so insignificant, why bother.
I guess my answer would be, “What if people felt like they were saving money and, they could see their environmental impact?”
There is an APP which tracks your energy production, usage and environmental impact on a daily basis. Most Florida solar installation companies include the connection for free and this allows the homeowner the opportunity to see what they are saving, both financially and environmentally.
As it is with all types of change, making a switch to solar energy is a big step, a step that many homeowners will hesitate to take. However, when we do take that step it will empower us to promote solar to our friends, neighbors, family and communities.
In a world filled with so much negativity it really is nice to be able to make a decision to do something that we know we will always feel good about and, one that will benefit our children and, their children.