NREI Readers Write

2012 or the Hottest Year on Record – How Can We Mitigate Creeping Energy Costs?

The National Climatic Data Center recently reported that the first eight months of 2012 were the hottest ever recorded in the continental U.S., and that the average temperatures of June, July and August turned this past summer into the third hottest ever. What’s more, record-breaking heat waves hit the country’s Southwest well into October. The thermometer-bursting temperatures not only affected our comfort, but also skyrocketed our electricity bills.

Looking forward, temperatures this winter are also expected to be lower than normal in many areas of the country. The electricity bills of the 38 percent of homeowners across the U.S. that heat their homes with electricity will also be affected by an increase of 5 percent. Across the U.S., electricity consumption is averaged to increase 7.9 percent, driving our energy costs through the roof.

How can businesses and homeowners mitigate the effect of the extreme temperatures on their energy costs? One solution that is growing in popularity is installing solar panels on their roofs. Solar modules collect sunlight and convert it into free, clean renewable energy. Although production is higher on sunny days, solar modules also absorb light and produce electricity on cloudy days. A solar system protects from rising energy costs by drastically reducing and even eliminating a building’s dependence on outside electricity providers and the hefty bills that come with contracting with them.

A solar electric system’s cost is usually a conversation topic that leads to confusion due to a lack of information. Unlike popular belief, going solar has become an affordable investment. There are numerous incentives in place for installing a solar electric system, including federal, state and property tax credits and utility rebates. There are also various financial programs designed to limit or eliminate the out-of-pocket expense. With all of the savings and programs, home and business owners can generate their own clean, renewable energy for free or at a very low cost. Additionally, for every $1 of electricity offset through solar, the home or other building’s value will increase by $20. Annual savings on energy costs of $800, for example, would increase a home or other building’s value by $16,000.

Lastly, many new alternative energy companies are American. Hence, by going solar, home and business owners are not only helping lower their energy costs, increase their property value and preserve the environment, but also helping create jobs in the new green industry that will help reestablish a strong American economy.

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