Friday, February 17, 2012

Is Solar Expensive?

So many roofs that need solar!

This morning back at the Cosmic Solar office we all huddled around in a circle at the close of our morning meeting.

"We're going to draw straws," our president said, "to see which one of you is the lucky individual who we'll send to the inspection down in San Diego today." 

As I stood there, dreading the ultimate outcome of this proposition, I somehow I just knew it would be me. Sure enough, as luck would have it, my straw miraculously ended up being the shortest and I inevitably ended up warming up my engine in order to make the trip down for the inspection to meet with the electrical inspector.

If you've ever had to perform an inspection, you know why everyone dreads getting out of bed that morning. The truth is, though, that inspections are 95% waiting around and 5% hightailing it around, answering questions for the inspector about the installation. It just always happens to be that way. So, for example, if your inspection is scheduled between 10:00am and 2:00pm, you might find yourself waiting around for three hours and 45 minutes before you see any action at the site. If any of you readers out there have ever had to wait around for an inspector, I feel your pain.

While I checked my watch, waiting for the inspector, I began to nonchalantly glance around the neighborhood at a few of the local neighbor's houses. "Funny," I thought to myself, "I wonder why only one homeowner on this block has made the conscious decision to go solar on this street..."

Soon after a neighbor came by to inquire why I had been standing at her next door neighbor's house for three hours and 45 minutes with my blank stare. "Excuse me, can I help you?" she said with a raised eyebrow. As we struck up a conversation and eventually made our way to the issue of rising electric rates, I built up the nerve to ask her why she had never before considered solar for her home, despite having a $450 electric bill.

"Well, solar is expensive, you know? And we looked into it before but the payback period was sort of intimidating so, you know, we didn't go ahead with solar at that time. Maybe in the future things will make more sense for us."

I'd be lying if I didn't hear homeowners say this on a daily basis and the funny thing is it's just not true. Here comes the shocking truth: Solar is no longer expensive! As I spoke to our client's next door neighbor for the next 20 minutes, I couldn't help but highlight all of the benefits of going solar today for no money down with today's prepaid or no money down arrangements.

"No money down, you say?" That's right... absolutely no money down and you begin saving money from day one, not to mention adding value to your house and making it more attractive for any prospective home buyer down the line. Suffice to say she didn't exactly say "where do I sign" but I definitely piqued her interest in obtaining a free solar bid from us here at Cosmic Solar.

After returning to the office and running the numbers, this is what I found:

Her current SDG&E electric bill is now $450 per month
I can "zero out" this electric bill, effectively reducing it to $5 with solar 

This solar system -- purchased with no upfront investment -- would cost $300 a month to "lease" it, allowing for an instant and immediate savings of $150 a month with no upfront investment. Sounds pretty good, right?
  • Better yet, all the maintenance on the system is included for 20 years
  •  While SDG&E's prices continue to increase each year, this annual price is fixed, meaning the savings grow larger and larger each and every year
  • If you decide to sell your home down the line, a new homeowner would be excited about the fact their bill would effectively be less than half of what their neighbors are paying
  • Did I mention there is no upfront investment, meaning it's essentially "free"
After taking these facts into consideration, it's difficult for anyone to argue that solar is expensive these days. In fact, from what I've seen, the prices are now steadily beginning to increase over time. Six months ago leases were much more attractive than they are today. In another six months, the same may be true.

Let's face it, what have you got to lose other than your electric bill? Why not just see what solar can offer you? Really, what have you got to lose?

Pey Shadzi
Operations Manager at Cosmic Solar


  1. Great article..and so very true. I could not have said it better myself!!
    I encourage everyone to read it.

  2. ^Thanks, Bahram. My guess is you've waited around for a few inspectors in your day, yes? Haha.