When evaluating the purchase of a renewable energy component (solar in particular) just how important is that “break-even” number, anyway? Well, it makes very little sense for anyone hoping to advance the merits of solar energy and high performance construction to avoid an issue that, for most consumers, is a key driver in the decision making process. If you’re told that five, seven, or ten years must elapse before you break-even on your purchase, this is certainly an important fact. Though it remains true that many of us operate within an arena where long-term projections, regardless of the credible research associated with such forecasts, are seen as nothing but conjecture. The propensity for ‘short-term thinking’ abounds and challenges the most sober sensibilities. This is just a reality.
Perhaps we can say that in all likelihood, if not with all practical certainty, that if we do nothing today in terms of how we generate and use energy, we’ll be doing the same thing (albeit at a more expensive cost and within a somewhat changed physical environment) in 5, 7 or 10 years? Maybe the bigger question to ask is what our economic life will (or can) look like in year 6, 8 or 11 should we jump on the solar bandwagon. Are we better off in having substantially reduced, if not totally eliminated our utility bills in the future? Granted, you can argue that today’s purchase may mean that I’ve exchanged one bill for another (i.e. the opportunity cost of monies spent for solar). But what has this purchase meant to my economic well-being in the not-too-distant future? Has my commitment to renewable energy given me some sense of control over my fiscal and natural environment? And did this purchase put me in a better position (vis-a-vis the non-solar home I may be competing against for resale of my property at a point in the future)? Is a high performance, healthier home a better choice for both me, and for those who may wish to purchase my residence at some later date?
In the end we all choose those things we deem most important. “Break-even” analysis is certainly important and remains but one gauge for measuring the overall virtues associated with our renewable energy purchase. And this should not be read as unbridled support for every ‘green’ and sustainable energy solutions currently touted by industry or media professionals. Yes. Let’s continue to evaluate such purchases through the prism of financial analysis and continue to respect the element of time when evaluating financial return. But let’s not overlook those non-economic variables that may also serve the buyer’s longer-term interests.
Did you know? We just broke ground on the areas first net-zero community in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire! For more information check out the website specifically for it! Click here: Southscape