We’ve all heard the recent reports that solar panels are finally more affordable, more accessible, and more desirable than ever before. After all, who doesn’t want to lower their electricity bills? And… since we live in sunny Florida, the main resource required is abundant…and free! As proponents of affordable housing, we work to improve the lives of those citizens who struggle every day to survive by helping to provide safe, affordable housing. Now let’s take another step forward and see if we can assist in lowering the utility bills for tenants in these affordable homes. Developers need to consider the long-term savings to all involved when solar panels are used to reduce power usage on selected buildings. Right now, there are tax incentives available to lower the final costs, as well as other incentives that make this a win – win situation for all involved.
Let’s talk about some of the “other” incentives property owners can expect from this endeavor. Some interesting statistics for solar panel use, by Mathias Aarre Maehlum, that were published in Energy Informative, should make us wonder what is taking us so long to get on board:
1) Save thousands of dollars. For single family homes, owners are experiencing monthly savings of well above $100 in many states. This savings adds up very quickly over time. Just think what a multifamily development can expect!
2) Increase the property’s value. Living in a home with solar panels translates into lower electricity costs – having them will increase a property’s marketability.
3) Solar is a Secure Investment. Since utility companies are known for fluctuating and unreliable utility costs – always on an upward trend – solar panels make sense. Add a bit of simple math and one can calculate how much electricity will be generated, and at what price, for at least the next 20 years (fixed energy costs).
4) Guaranteed Performance. Most solar panel manufacturers include a 20-25 year warranty (also known as a performance guarantee) with their solar panels. The industry standard guarantees 80% performance after 25 years; however, the real life span of solar panels is much longer. They are likely to generate a good amount of electricity 30-45 years later.
5) Save the Environment. Although it is understood that the majority of property owners choose to go solar because it makes good sense from a financial standpoint, the environmental benefits are certainly worth mentioning:
a. The U.S. places high in the world in annual carbon dioxide emissions. Our “carbon footprint” can be greatly reduced by replacing utility power with clean electricity from solar panels.
b. The average residential solar system offsets about 100,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide in 20 years – the equivalent of driving a car for 100,000 miles. Just think of this multiplied for multifamily housing developments. That’s a lot less carbon dioxide!
6) Creates Energy Independence. It seems reasonable to expect we will inevitably run out of oil, coal, and natural gas. Our continued consumption of these increasingly expensive and dangerous energy sources contributes to a decline in our national security and our economy. In 2012, the U.S. relied on net imports for about 40% of the petroleum (crude oil and petroleum products) that we consumed in that year. Use of solar energy can help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign energy.
7) Solar is Easy. Going solar has never been easier. There are teams of solar consultants standing ready to assist with multiple options to choose from. Most offer free consultations – with no obligation.
So, why not add solar panels to your next development design and continue the momentum that is currently under way? First Housing successfully added solar panels to an existing structure, utilizing an innovative design for solar panel covered parking – and is already experiencing significant cost savings. We stand as an example that going solar is not only readily available – but should be viewed as a prudent business decision that will impact the bottom line for both property owners and the low income tenants we strive to serve.
So, what are you waiting for?