There are many motivations for adding solar to your home or business. Anytime you can make your own electricity, that’s energy that you don’t have to purchase from your local utility. As electricity costs continue to increase, especially with longer and hotter summers predicted as our climate continues to warm, making the switch to solar the best way to lock in decades of predictable energy costs.
But the environmental impact of adding solar is just as compelling. And since Arizona utilities generate most of their electricity from dirtier sources such as coal, nuclear and natural gas, installing solar is a compelling way to contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future while also putting money back in your pocket.
1. Going solar will reduce greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions
The average Arizona home consumes just under 13,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. Even a modestly-sized solar energy system can easily reduce that number by 80% while many can even approach 100%. Even at these levels, the environmental impact of solar is substantial. Over twenty years, producing just 80% of the average home’s annual energy requirements, a solar energy system will offset the equivalent CO2 emissions from over 150,000 pounds of coal burned, or the greenhouse gas emissions from 45 tons of landfill waste! *
2. Add an electric vehicle (EV) and drive on sunshine
It’s pretty obvious that driving an electric car means fewer, if any, visits to the gas pump. Opting for an EV also means offsetting 100% of a traditional car’s harmful C02 emissions. But what many people don’t realize is that if you charge that EV from a non-solar home, all you're doing is moving the energy expense from the gas pump to your monthly utility bill. A properly designed solar energy system will power your home AND your car while helping to further offset the “dirty” electricity that you’d otherwise need to purchase from your utility.
3. Solar reduces water pollution
This one is a little less obvious, but certainly one of the biggest environmental advantages of solar. While all manufacturing processes require some water, including those used to make solar panels, the total amount of water needed to generate solar electricity is dramatically less than more traditional electricity sources. Older technologies such as nuclear, natural gas, and coal-fired facilities, all require massive amounts of water for cooling purposes. With solar energy, there’s almost no risk to local water resources, nor does their operation strain local supplies by competing with agriculture, drinking systems, and other vital water needs.
4. Solar reduces strain on finite resources
Global population will continue to grow, but our Earth only has a finite amount of oil, coal, and natural gas to give up. The sun is Earth’s most abundant energy source, producing a staggering 173,000 terawatts of solar energy every second! That's more than 10,000 times the world's total combined energy use and it’s available again and again. In contrast, fossil fuels are dirty and totally non-renewable. At some point, they will simply be gone, or the cost of finding and extracting them will be way too expensive for our strained population. If we don’t change, the resulting damage to our environment and strain to our financial infrastructure may simply be unrepairable. Going solar is the best way to hedge against the reality of dwindling resources.
Going solar is like saving the planet and keeping the change. In fact, it’s pretty much the only home improvement investment that will have an immediate and measurable impact on the environment while putting money back into your pocket from the moment it’s activated.
If you're interested in adding solar to your home, we invite you to download our free solar guide, Is Solar Right For You? In it you'll learn the critical factors that contribute to a solar purchase decision.
*Data calculated from an estimated average of 13,000 kWh of residential electricity consumption in Arizona (www.electricitylocal.com), and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.