Global warming is THE most serious problem facing our world. Consider its impacts: sea level rise, floods, drought, violent weather, mudslides, forest fires, air pollution, species extinction, human migration, failed states, and so forth. You can do something about it!
Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that the burning of fossil fuels is a significant if not the primary cause of the climate change we are seeing. By promoting the development and use of sustainable energy technologies in the form of solar, wind, and hydroelectric power we can reduce the global warming of our planet. The responsibility lies with each of us.
I write to encourage you to solarize your home, as my son and I have done. If you do not have the southern exposure on your house or the space to put in a solar array, consider investing in a commercial or non-profit solar farm. You will save money at the same time you are reducing the use of fossil fuels.
Last year I asked four different solar installers for quotes on a solar system that would both power and heat my home, which was then heated with fuel oil. I chose to go with Geneva-based QwikSolar, which installed an 80-panel, ground mounted array between my house and barn. The cost was $66,588, but with federal and state tax credits and a NYSERDA grant from the state the net cost was only $33,133, roughly the cost of a new car.
I needed a new car so I chose to buy a pre-owned Chevy Volt, which I “plug into the sun” each night and save about a gallon of gas each charge. (More efficient hybrids are on the way!) I also had three heat pumps installed in my house to convert it from oil to electric heat. With the savings on fuel oil and electricity for the house and the savings on gasoline in my car, I estimate that the investment in my solar system will pay off in 10.6 years.
Thereafter, for the remainder of the 25-year life of my photoelectric panels, my electricity will be FREE. Needless to say, if I had already had electric heat in my house and had not had to buy heat pumps, my payoff would come much sooner. So you see, by going solar you can save money and reduce global warming at the same time.
One concern I had was that Seneca County, the Town of Ovid, and the South Seneca school district might opt out of the provision in state law which gives property owners a 15-year property tax exemption on solar systems. I was pleased when the Seneca County Board of Supervisors decided not to opt out, thus setting a socially responsible example for other municipalities.
So my message to homeowners, and business owners as well, is GO SOLAR. You will save money in the short or long run and you will be contributing to the sustainability of life on earth at the same time. If you have any questions about going solar, call me anytime at (607) 532-4891. I am an active member of Solar Seneca, which is currently working on the development of a non-profit solar farm.
Dr. David L. Dresser is the former supervisor of the Town of Ovid.