Build It Green, a California-based nonprofit, has created a new home energy calculator that shows you how much greener your home is compared to your average neighbor’s home. It also shows you how much money you save compared to your neighbor.
I decided to play around with the cool new calculator a bit. I’ve seen many of these, but this certainly one of the most sophisticated I’ve seen, maybe the most sophisticated. I don’t have a home in California, so I was just throwing in some fake info. After changing a few things in the “Interior” section, my home was 6% greener than my average neighbor’s (using a San Francisco area code). Interestingly, though, and showing just how super green solar panels are, when I moved on to the exterior and said that I had solar panels, my “Green Home Score” jumped to 55%! Furthermore, my savings jumped from $75,140 over 30 years to $107,246, showing that going solar isn’t just about being green, but it’s also about saving “green.” Here’s a snapshot of my (fake) home at that stage:
Even if I say I don’t have central air conditioning, don’t have a dishwasher, don’t have a refrigerator, don’t have a washing machine, use 100% green (CFL/LED) lighting, and have insulation everywhere possible, I only get up to 29% greener than average (and $87,530 savings) without the solar panels. In the solar situation above, I have all of those appliances and don’t have insulation in my walls.
In both situations, I put that I had electric heating and water heating. With heating and water heating coming from natural gas instead, and all other variables except the solar panels at default, my home is 26% greener and I save $18,891 over 30 years. Default, of course, has me at 0% and $0.
Anyway, as you can see, this green home or energy calculator is a lot of fun to play with. The options to change variables are tremendous. Go ahead and give it a shot, especially if you live in California.
But the big conclusion is that solar panels are the best way to green your home (without removing just about every modern amenity in your home), and that’s especially the case if your heating comes from electricity.
Cost of Solar readers would already know much of this, though, wouldn’t you? You know that solar panel costs are a small fraction of what they were just a few years ago. You know that solar panel savings are now huge due to that. You know that the average Californian who goes solar is likely to save over $30,000 over 20 years. You know that the rooftop revolution has arrived.