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The facts about investing in solar energy

By Jeffrey Voacolo

I have heard many arguments on energy efficiency versus solar energy. Which one comes first? Which one has the highest return-on-investment for my hard-earned money? If I install solar energy, should I still use energy-efficient means to save money?

I am a fact-driven person, so let’s dive into the numbers. When solar energy cost $15 a watt to install, the argument for energy efficiency was a no-brainer. Even 10 years ago, solar energy was very expensive and the return on your investment took too long. Keeping your money in the stock market or mutual fund made way more sense. Today, that is not the case anymore.

Since it is becoming a mainstream source of energy, solar power can guarantee an auspicious pay-off time. You’ll see it in less than five years and your return-on-investment is greater than 12 percent. After the pay-off period, your system’s energy production will be 100 percent yours with very low maintenance for over 30 years.

With an average size solar energy system installed on your home, your annual savings could well be over $4,000, which will roll into your own pocket instead of going to the utility agency.

If anyone can show me a stock market, mutual fund, metal, rare earth mineral or anything else that compares to this investment, then I am all ears.

You can purchase good LED lights for your home, but unless your home is lit up like a ballfield, the pay-off is minimal.

Installing a solar water heater is not a bad investment, but most of these systems do not last more than five to 10 years and the good ones are very expensive. Unless you have three teenaged daughters taking three baths a day, it is not really a great investment.

Placing a timer on your water heater will help, but using a solar energy system is without a doubt a better investment for your home and your wallet. It will save and make you a tremendous amount of money. Coupled with a battery storage system, it will give you energy independence and security that no utility can match.

You can also hedge and budget your energy costs over the next 30 years. Plus, investing in a solar energy system adds a dollar-for-dollar value to the resale price of your home.


Even with rentals in the future, more renters will be looking for properties that are powered by solar energy. They will be willing to pay a little bit more in rent, which will shorten the payback period for the property owner’s investment.

Every month I receive a newsletter in the mail, containing a promise to the community that someday we will be saving money on purchasing fossil fuel-generated energy. My grandfather used to say, “The road to someday leads to the town of nowhere.” With the volatility of oil always staged on the global markets by the oil cartels, we are on the road to the town of nowhere. But I must admit I do enjoy the monthly recipes.

Jeffrey Voacolo is the vice president and chief operations officer of Generation Renewable Inc. Send feedback to

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