Saving Energy: Does Solar Make Sense for You?

From The GOOD Guide to Saving Energy

Every three months, GOOD releases our quarterly magazine, which examines a given theme through our unique lens. Recent editions have covered topics like the impending global water crisis, the future of transportation, and the amazing rebuilding of New Orleans. This quarter's issue is about energy, and we'll be rolling out a variety of stories all month. You can subscribe to GOOD here.


\n

Sure, solar energy is an abundant source of power for our electricity-intensive way of life, but those who are putting photovoltaic panels up on their roofs these days are truly pioneers. That’s because it’s going to take roughly a decade and a half for those panels to pay themselves off. It’s a tough financial decision—you’re essentially buying several years’ worth of energy up front at a cost of about $30,000. You may be willing to go solar just to save the planet, but financially that’s a lousy return on investment. Want some advice on whether to take the plunge? Here are a few things to consider.

Are you paying a lot for electricity?

“Most people’s goal with solar is to save on their electric bill,” says Carmen Smith, a marketing manager at BP Solar. If your monthly bill is running more than $100, you might want to consider solar panels, especially if you’re planning on staying in your home for a while. If you’re paying less than $100 per month, try more low-tech (and far less expensive) fixes, like sealing air leaks, weather-stripping, and installing more insulation.

Check out your roof

The next step is to determine whether or not your roof can accommodate solar panels. What’s its orientation? If one
section faces south, great. East- and west-facing roofs will work—but not north-facing ones. Also, make sure that nothing like telephone poles or trees are shading the part of the roof where the panels will go. (In the case of trees, keep in mind that they’ll keep growing—and will block out more and more sun—over the years.) If you’re overdue for a new roof, it’s an ideal time for a solar installation.

Does your state offer incentives for solar?

For most, this is the make-or-break factor. If your state offers tax rebates or the like for your system, they (added to the federal incentive) will likely cut the cost of a solar array by half. You have to do your research, as each state offers different programs: New Jersey, for instance, will pay up to $1.75 for each watt of power that your array produces. Head to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency to see whether your state offers incentives for solar power.

Does your utility offer net-metering?

One way to speed up the time it takes for your system to pay off is through net-metering, which is when your utility actually credits you for the electricity you produce beyond what it takes to power your home. “The question is, what do they buy the power back at?” says Smith. “Do they offer a one-for-one credit, or are they buying it from you at a wholesale rate?” This differs not only by state, but also by county, so make sure you’re clear on all the details

LEARN MORE dsireusa.org

Articles

We've all felt lonely at some point in our lives. It's a human experience as universal as happiness, sadness or even hunger. But there's been a growing trend of studies and other evidence suggesting that Americans, and people in general, are feeling more lonely than ever.

It's easy to blame technology and the way our increasingly online lives have further isolated us from "real" human interactions. The Internet once held seemingly limitless promise for bringing us together but seems to be doing just the opposite.

Except that's apparently not true at all. A major study from Cigna on loneliness found that feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise amongst Americans but the numbers are nearly identical amongst those who use social media and those who don't. Perhaps more importantly, the study found five common traits amongst those who don't feel lonely.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
WITI Milwaukee

Joey Grundl, a pizza delivery driver for a Domino's Pizza in Waldo, Wisconsin, is being hailed as a hero for noticing a kidnapped woman's subtle cry for help.

The delivery man was sent to a woman's house to deliver a pie when her ex-boyfriend, Dean Hoffman, opened the door. Grundl looked over his shoulder and saw a middle-aged woman with a black eye standing behind Hoffman. She appeared to be mouthing the words: "Call the police."

"I gave him his pizza and then I noticed behind him was his girlfriend," Grundl told WITI Milwaukee. "She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words, 'Call the police.'"

Keep Reading Show less
Good News


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Facebook: kktv11news

A post on the Murdered by Words subreddit is going viral for the perfect way a poster shut down a knee-jerk "double-standard!" claim.

It began when a Redditor posted a 2015 Buzzfeed article story about a single dad who took cosmetology lessons to learn how to do his daughter's hair.

Most people would see the story as something positive. A dad goes out of his way to learn a skill that makes his daughter look fabulous.

Keep Reading Show less
Lifestyle