I’m sure everyone remembers from elementary school what a double negative equals. A double negative equals a positive. A cost is clearly something we have to pay (a negative on our bank balance), so a negative cost is clearly more money in our bank or pocket. So, a negative solar energy cost of $20,000 is actually a savings of $20,000.
And, no, I didn’t confuse myself — the average person who goes solar saves about $20,000 over 20 years. Given that solar panel systems have been shown to last for over 30 years, and that the research that came to the $20,000 total is from 2011 (before the cost of solar fell through the floor), the number should actually be much larger. But hey, I think $20,000 is a large enough number to get the point across. (By the way, in some states, the 20-year solar savings are actually above $30,000, or even close to $60,000. See the infographic below or read this post.)
Of course, many of us who go solar might not live for another 20 years. In such a case, we should still take comfort in knowing that our families should benefit from the investment and collect the remaining “negative cost.”
Alternatively, you might want to sell your house in a few years or so, and you might be wondering right now if you’d get your investment back if you did. Well, academic studies have indeed found that houses with solar panels on them do sell for more. (It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there are massive savings in producing your own electricity.)
All in all, the story is clear: there is no solar energy cost in the long term. Solar panels are an investment that end up providing you with more income. You become a power producer who can even get paid for supplying this much -needed resource to the grid. And some more awesome news is the money you save from not needing to buy electricity from the grid is not taxed.
If you’re still curious about the upfront cost of putting solar panels on your roof, about 75% of people who have the choice actually get a solar lease rather than buying the panels. In such cases, you can go solar for $0 or close to $0 down. Immediately, you begin saving on your electric bill, and the 20-year savings are comparable to buying a system. Actually, the majority of the people surveyed in the study that found about $20,000 in 20-year savings went with a solar lease rather than buying a system. If the upfront cost of a solar panel system scares you, I’d consider checking out that option.
But whatever you do, if you have a roof, don’t throw away $20,000. For more details on the average savings for people who went solar in 2011 in your state, check out this infographic: