My mother’s angst for electricity usage has become a thing in our family. She roams her housing turning off all the lights and unplugging appliances and insists we all congregate in the same room.
She runs her appliances only in the most off-peak hours—the fact that it’s during sleeping hours doesn’t even register as a minor concern. She monitors our energy usage constantly. I imagine once the electric company installs the smart energy reader she has requested, her vigil will become a full-time job for her.
While I appreciate her resolve to be a conscious electric consumer, it seems she has made it more complex than it needs to be.
When I ask her why she does not go solar, she says, “oh no those panels are too dangerous and do not work well.” It turns out she is not alone—most people spurn solar energy. Last year solar power generation in the U.S. was less than .04%.
Elon Musk has repeatedly said that the sun “produces ridiculous amounts of power.”
Sunshine produces more energy in a few hours than we would need in a year. This is my favorite part and I know we all know this already. Solar energy is renewable and clean.
Some of the reasons people give for snubbing solar power and why they are misleading to follow below.
Solar panels are ugly.
Who wants to have an unsightly, glaring contraption on the roof? Technology is moving at unprecedented pace to meet this demand. Current designs are streamlined and blend into the roof. There are also solar shingles, panels that look like skylights, and paint-on options.
Additionally, solar panels—even the less than stylish options—don’t lower the value of your home. They raise it.
It’s too unreliable in cloudy areas.
If you’ve ever gotten sunburn on a cloudy day, you know that the sun is still producing rays. Technology is catching up here too. There are certain solar panels that are made to work in places like London or Seattle. You don’t have to live in only sunny places.
Germany is not a particularly sunny country and yet it is the global leader of solar energy.
It doesn’t work at night.
Depending on the size of panels installed in your home, you are going to generate more electricity during the day than you need. The rest goes back to your utility in credits that you can use when you need.
Some folks want to be completely off the grid. Those adventurous people will have to store their excess energy in batteries to use at night. In either route, you will not be left in the dark.
The hardware is pricey.
New technology seems to come with a hefty price but as usage expands, so do the financial alternatives. Not surprisingly, the cost of solar panels has recently fallen. Financing options mean that most people can go solar for little or no money down. There are also leasing options for those who are hesitant, and even the ability to buy modular systems that you can add to as needs increase.
Additionally, solar energy is a home upgrade that will pay for itself over time. In areas that offer awesome incentives, that period can reduce to as little as two to five years.
I could continue listing more reasons people give for their reluctance to love solar power because there are more—we’ve all heard misinformation. Messages contradict each other and seem peppered with slanted points favoring the industry or organizations putting out the information.
If you are going to believe someone, maybe Elon Musk is the one. At the recent COP21 global event, he played a bit of a professor with the theme that we should exit the fossil fuel era. He believes we should abandon it as quickly as possible to cause the least amount of problems to the planet.
We need to start using mostly electric power, and that power needs to come from clean, renewable sources—one of the guiding reasons Mr. Musk worked like a mad man to produce the sexy and completely different Tesla.
The bottom line is we need to go electric and solar, or we will die.
Author: Camerina P. Schwartz
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Unsplash By Mayur Gala