Living elevated exposes Utah to a lot of sunlight — sunlight that can be harnessed for electricity. Solar power systems are continually becoming more efficient and affordable. With federal tax cuts in Utah, they’re practically free.
Meeting your Solar Energy Needs
A typical American household consumes 30 kWh of electricity a day, costing around $80-$100 a month. An 8-kW solar energy system can produce 40 kWh of electricity — enough to meet your energy needs during the day and send excess power to the grid to compensate for your nighttime consumption. Being somewhat self-sufficient insulates you from hike rates while also giving you a chance to earn money with the electricity you produce. An 8-kW system will typically provide an excess of 10 kWh per day, which in Rocky Mountain net metering rates will earn you a dollar or more a day. You can increase your earnings by decreasing your consumption. Measures like insulating your house or switching to green appliances, particularly refrigerators and air-conditioning systems that use inverter technology, can cut your electricity consumption by up to 50 percent.
Setting-up an 8-kW solar power system will cost around $15,000. Utah’s solar rebates will bring costs down to $10,000. 10-year financing plans through bank loans or mortgage lenders (choose plans with interests at or below 6 percent) will have you paying only $120 a month. Since your panels will cover your energy consumption (average $80 a month) and earn a bit of money ($30 or more a month), you’re only paying an additional $10 a month for your panels. In ten years, your panels would have been paid for, but it would still be providing all your energy needs and giving you money. Solar panels typically last for 25-35 years (the first 20 are insured) before they lose efficiency. With monthly savings of $100 or more, your solar panels will earn you $1,200 a year once you’ve paid for them. Investment-wise, a solar energy system will only cost you $120 a year for ten years — after which, you would earn $1,200 a year for another 10-15 years. In 20 years, solar panels pay for themselves ten times over.
Why Not Free Fuel as Well?
Electric cars have a bad rap, but the newer models are outperforming standard gas-guzzlers in almost every aspect of driving except mileage. Electric cars are now faster and easier to drive, even rivaling sports cars when it comes to acceleration and handling. The typical electric vehicle has a 100-200 mile mileage, which should be enough for everyday commutes. Charging an electric vehicle for 100 miles requires 15 kWh of electricity, but you probably won’t be driving 100 miles a day. Electricity is a lot cheaper than gas or diesel, and you won’t be contributing to the inversion that plagues the state.
Take advantage of being a little bit closer to the sun. Utah is one of the best places to get solar panels. Not only are they practically free, but they’re also a sound investment that pays off ten times what you put in.