I have some feedback about article “What are You Waiting For?” (“From the Crew,” in HP159). Are you serious to suggest in the article that homeowners should refinance or get a second mortgage to install PV on their homes? For a 15- to 20-year payback? So, at best, it’s a break-even deal? (That is, if no cost is incurred during those 15 to 20 years for repairs.) Financing a PV system makes no sense as long as the local power plant is running.
A local solar installation company is advertising a 3 kW system installed for $12,000. You could spend half of that to have the average home superinsulated with spray-foam technology and save that 3 kW, summer and winter. The best way to reduce our energy usage is not use it in the first place—conservation, conservation, conservation.
A lot of your articles covering installed PV no longer show the cost of the installation. What gives? No matter how you juggle the numbers, PV systems defy common sense for someone living in southern Indiana (me). Passion for the technology can never override common sense.
What are we waiting for? I guess for the power to quit coming out of the wall.
Jock Stucki • Evansville, Indiana
Many folks look at the situation quite differently: Why pay the utility when you could be paying off your system at the same rate? Instead of giving your money away, at the end of the term you own your energy production.
But I am in full agreement that investing in energy savings is sound, and the financial payback occurs in exactly the same way as investing in a PV system. Home Power recommends that reasonable means to save energy be the first step, and only then does it make sense to take the next step of installing a renewable energy electric system.
We hope to start working with authors to get the real data on their system costs. But I think you are mistaken that installing RE does not make sense economically.
Michael Welch • Home Power senior editor