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Earth Power Science

Solar Panels Increase Home Value 352

Posted by Soulskill
from the nimby-schmimby dept.
blair1q writes "Venture Beat reports that a study (PDF) by Berkeley National Labs has found that homes sold in California earned a premium for solar panels. The benefit ranged from $3900 to $6400 per kW of capacity. An earlier study found that proximity to solar or wind power may also raise home values. These results contradict the arguments based on degrading home values used by putative NIMBY (Not In My Back-Yard) opponents to installing or living near such energy-generating equipment."
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Solar Panels Increase Home Value

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  • Makes Sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DWMorse (1816016) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:28PM (#35917398) Homepage
    Makes total sense. If I was looking at houses, and the prior owners had installed a hot tub, earning them a glare or two from neighbors in the process, I would also pay a little extra for that amenity too. Duh. Beneficial improvement raises value.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Makes total sense.

      But then the "econutters" would be right and there's a whole contingent of people out there who are going to go burn tires just to show them who's boss.

      Time after time, conservationists say "we think you should X because it will save the world". Opponents say "You gaia-worshipping econutters can't tell us what to do, we're going to burn a tire just for you". Companies turn off their lights at night and discover that they are saving 25% on their electric bill. Or they recycle and discover

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ShakaUVM (157947)

        Time after time, conservationists say "we think you should X because it will save the world". Opponents say "You gaia-worshipping econutters can't tell us what to do, we're going to burn a tire just for you". Companies turn off their lights at night and discover that they are saving 25% on their electric bill. Or they recycle and discover they're saving on their raw material costs. The list goes on and on. Sure, there are some crazy suggestions out there, and sadly some of them have gotten backed by the gov

        • Re:Makes Sense (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 23, 2011 @07:22PM (#35917640)

          [......] the enlightened [......] people.

          I fall into the latter camp.

          Of course you do!

        • Re:Makes Sense (Score:4, Insightful)

          by presidenteloco (659168) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @07:29PM (#35917676)

          Actually the climate scientists are pretty much saying we need 80% to 100% GHG (CO2...) emissions reductions soon to avoid potentially catastrophic warming.

          Your enlightenment may be on the blink.

          Also, your stereotype and cliche filter probably needs replacing.

          • Re:Makes Sense (Score:5, Interesting)

            by bunratty (545641) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @07:54PM (#35917784)

            Yes, climate scientists are saying we need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 85% to stabilize the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If we emit much more than that, we will emit more carbon dioxide per year than the carbon cycle can absorb, and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will continue to rise and the temperature will continue to rise. So we need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80-90% at some point.

            There is some disagreement about how much time we have to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80-90% to avoid catastrophic warming (and by catastrophic, I don't mean "ZOFMG we're all gonna die!"). How long it takes us to reduce emissions will determine the concentration at which we stabilize, which will in turn determine how much the temperature rises. For example, if we stabilize at 550 ppm, we will have doubled the concentration of carbon dioxide. There is uncertainty about whether this will lead to a mere 1.5 degree Celsius increase (which isn't too bad) or a 4 degree Celsius increase (which would be pretty bad). The most reasonable course of action would be to play it safe, just in case the actual warming is on the high side of our estimates. If we start reducing carbon dioxide emissions and realize we don't need to cut them so quickly, we can always cut them more slowly. If we wait until we realize that we need to cut them dramatically or that we're already too late, then we're SOL.

        • Re:Makes Sense (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bunratty (545641) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @07:38PM (#35917702)

          I think your explanation of why the right wing doesn't want to accept global warming or that it makes sense to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is because they think we'll suffer. You're essentially right in saying that we don't need to suffer at all, just change how we generate electricity.

          You're missing the part efficiency plays, however. By using more efficient lighting and appliances, driving higher gas mileage cars, and living and working in buildings with more insulation, we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by simply not using as much energy in the first place. We'll hardly notice any difference, except for the different types of light bulbs or perhaps charging up the car instead of refueling it.

          You're also off in how much we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We don't need to cut them in half; we need to reduce them by 80% or more. That's why Obama set a goal of 80% of our energy from non-emitting sources by 2035 [jetsongreen.com].

          • Re:Makes Sense (Score:4, Insightful)

            by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @08:10PM (#35917860) Journal
            Somewhere back in the late 80's the right wing recognised the coal industry were facing extinction and have reacted by conducting a major disinformation campaign to convince their followers to act against their own best interest, it has worked spectacularly well. Somewhat ironically their hero Ronald Reagan was instrumental in creating the internation cap and trade system for sulphur emmission in order to reduce acid rain, that also worked spectaularly well.
          • Re:Makes Sense (Score:4, Informative)

            by ShakaUVM (157947) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @11:21PM (#35918704) Homepage Journal

            >>we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by simply not using as much energy in the first place

            If all of our power generation comes from CO2-free sources, cutting energy consumption won't do very much. =)

            While CFLs are (much) more efficient than incandescent bulbs, CFLs produce a terrible quality of light, flicker noticeably (wave your hand in front of one), and release mercury gas at about twice the occupational hazard limit set by the EPA if you, you know, happen to drop one.

            >>We don't need to cut them in half; we need to reduce them by 80% or more. That's why Obama set a goal of 80% of our energy from non-emitting sources by 2035.

            Those two statements don't go together. Half our CO2 production is from energy, so 80% non-emitting energy sources will be only a .4 * .8 = 32% reduction in total CO2 emissions.

            • Re:Makes Sense (Score:4, Informative)

              by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @12:22AM (#35918910) Homepage Journal

              I just tested your assertion right here. CFLs produce perfectly decent light and don't flicker. If you bought any but the clearance sale ones in the past 2-3 years. Which I didn't, and they paid for themselves in 6 months.

              • by Jhon (241832)

                They flicker. But then again, I can see CRT's flicker. I have an aspie son (and aspie myself) -- trust me. They flicker.

                That said, there was a school for aspie/autistic special needs kids I toured a few years ago. I walked around staring at the lights. When the director asked my why I was looking at the lights I responded "Because they aren't flickering". They were CFLs. But special CFLs. Their cycle rate is so high that even *I* couldn't notice. And they cost the school a fortune.

                With many distrac

          • I think your explanation of why the right wing doesn't want to accept global warming or that it makes sense to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is because they think we'll suffer. You're essentially right in saying that we don't need to suffer at all, just change how we generate electricity.

            From what I've been told, by people on the far right; the real reason that the political far right is so vitriolic towards climate change research is because they do not like anyone suggesting how they should behave. Unless, of course they are told to buy gold. Or stock up on canned goods. Or go to church. Or rally against socialists. Or pack heat. Or ignore leftists radicals like climate scientists. In those cases, they don't mind doing as others tell them, but if they are told to recycle or turn off the l

        • Cutting America's CO2 levels by 50% would merely put you in the middle of the current European pack, it's not nearly enough... We in Europe need to seriously curtail our CO2 emissions, and you guys need to double your efforts to get down to the same levels.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita [wikipedia.org]

          • by ShakaUVM (157947)

            Cutting America's CO2 levels by 50% would merely put you in the middle of the current European pack, it's not nearly enough... We in Europe need to seriously curtail our CO2 emissions, and you guys need to double your efforts to get down to the same levels.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita [wikipedia.org]

            Or we could always have twice as many babies. That'd reduce per capita emissions significantly.

            (Per capita restrictions are very silly.)

            • Why do you say per capita restrictions are "silly"? More population equals greater pollution, no matter how little each extra person pollutes. Are we supposed to equate the US and China despite China having four times the population? Or maybe the US should restrict its total pollution levels to the levels of Sweden with 3% its population?

        • 5.5 hours by car is... Irregular working conditions.

          Biking to school/work is manageable for a significant portion of the populace, and is actually faster than driving in some cities.

          Also Enlightened Self-interest of getting precious exercise.

        • by vadim_t (324782)

          Your enlightened self-interest only seems to go one level deep in the best case.

          What you're speaking of here isn't really environmentalism, it's just common decency at most.

          It's certainly not too bad, but I don't find it all that commendable. After all, if everybody stopped their thinking at level 1 (themselves), we'd quickly find ourselves in a crappy situation. Take for instance indiscriminately throwing trash into the river you drink from. On an individual level that works out because your contribution i

        • Out of curiosity, why do you consider driving a hybrid to be nonsensical? It seems like a fine way to cut your fuel burning significantly without necessarily changing your habits.

          I'm not saying it's the only way to do things. I myself have a fairly inefficient SUV because if I want to go to the mountains with my wife, my kid and my dog, there's no way all of us would fit in a Prius. That being said, wherever possible, I use public or zero-emission (walk, bike) transportation, and I think we've put les
      • Re:Makes Sense (Score:4, Insightful)

        by presidenteloco (659168) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @08:02PM (#35917824)

        Hmmm. "Eco-nutter". I'm trying to think of an equally derogatory term for those who don't value eco-system integrity and the environment.

        Let's see, how about:
        "Lemming" - as in those who are convinced it is fine to keep on running this way.
        "Genocidal maniac" - as in those who don't mind exterminating species and decimating future human well-being and population for the sake of comfort.
        "Ostrich" - as in "head in the tar sands" is clearly the best strategy.
        "Bio-blivious" - as in those who can't grasp or irrationally deny that we are a biological species in the context of a complex eco-system.
        "Money Eaters" - putting dollars before sense - as in those who think that money is more valuable than everything else, and are pretty sure they will be able to eat money after ecologically produced food supplies dwindle and clean water systems are used up.
        "Shopbots" - uncritical zombie-like over-consumers of wasteful or harmful products of the unsustainable economy.
        "Neo-convicts" guilty of environmentally criminal industrial, land development, or resource extraction acts, and of of not understanding or deliberately closing their eyes to the fact that the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.

                                 

        • I ask you, if we find that all this pollution is holding off an Ice Age, what do we get to call you?

          • I ask you, if we find that all this pollution is holding off an Ice Age, what do we get to call you?

            If we were maintainung the status quo thn this would be reasonable. But we are not. The world is getting hotter. It is like trying to stop ourselves from getting cold by setting fire to ourselves. It is not the sane thing to do.

            To suggest that we do this would put you straight into the original eco-nutter category.

            • by tftp (111690)

              The world is getting hotter.

              Yes, that's why so many Mexican crops are destroyed by cold, and that's why rains can't stop in California. Last few years were much colder than average.

              • You understand the difference between climate and weather, right?

              • by nospam007 (722110) *

                "Yes, that's why so many Mexican crops are destroyed by cold, and that's why rains can't stop in California. Last few years were much colder than average."

                You're confusing weather with climate.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        But then the "econutters" would be right and there's a whole contingent of people out there who are going to go burn tires just to show them who's boss.

        Still, I figure 'most' people out there are halfway sane. My installing a hot tub, or a solar electric system might not make fiscal sense for me, but if I come across a house with it I'll be willing to pay more because it's either a nice feature or it'll save me money in the future.

        'Green' Features reduce or replace energy usage. I'm considering a solar hot water heater for my house, I've recommended them to my family(I'm in Alaska, they're in Florida).

        What sort of increase would I be willing to pay? Depe

    • Re:Makes Sense (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MoonBuggy (611105) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:49PM (#35917504) Journal

      I was thinking precisely the same thing. It doesn't explain the older study's conclusions, though: "...an additional study conducted by the government in 2009, found that home prices were either unaffected or rose based on proximity to renewable energy sources like wind power turbines and solar panels." - unless I'm misunderstanding, that's talking about solar/wind facilities nearby, not installed on the house in question as in the Berkeley study. I can't work out why that would raise property prices; it's not like you have to take your Prius to the nearest power plant to pick up a jug of fresh-squeezed eco-energy, after all. All I can think is that maybe there's a common cause. Good conditions for power generation could coincide with desirable features for a property location, I guess.

      • Re:Makes Sense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @07:04PM (#35917558)
        For me it would be a bonus because it would mean the land is likely to remain relatively undeveloped instead of filling in with more suburbs.
      • Re:Makes Sense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @07:20PM (#35917628)

        For me, when I pass by a wind farm, it brings a smile to my face. I'm happy that here is something being done about global warming and the upcoming energy crisis. The report suggests that feel good factor results in increased property values. Makes sense.

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          Since I was a kid, wind farms brought a smile to my face. Not because of the power concerns, but because they are giant art exihbits. If they didn't do anything useful, people would rave about how cool they are and declare them "Art". A wind farm is basically a field full of giant pinwheels. How cool is that!
        • The county I live in Michigan is doing everything it can to stop the windmills from being built here. They have already voted down a proposals to build the windmills offshore in Lake Michigan. The people who are mostly here only in the summer consider the windmills in the lake to be a eyesore. Now when they are trying to build them on land, they are trying to severely limit the sound and have a large area between the windmill and any other owned property. The land area will be huge if one must own all
          • Just don't have incredibly tall cattle and you won't have any problems with the windmills :)
            Yes, there are access roads and gates in fences and all that but it's not really a problem if it's done sensibly.
      • by tftp (111690)

        I can't work out why that would raise property prices; it's not like you have to take your Prius to the nearest power plant to pick up a jug of fresh-squeezed eco-energy, after all.

        Proximity to a harmless power plant actually improves your supply of power. Long transmission lines have a higher chance of failure.

        In part this matches the original idea about solar panels. The cost of energy is expected to rise (or you can say that the value of currency is expected to continue dropping.) This means that th

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday April 23, 2011 @09:08PM (#35918136) Homepage Journal

      Beneficial improvement raises value.

      But what are you going to do when one of those solar panels fails and leaks solar radiation all over? It won't be so good for property values when there's a Level 7 solar panel disaster.

      I hear there was a leak at one of the wind farms and now they're finding wind residue in the water supply over a five-mile radius.

      I think we better stick with nuclear energy: Clean, Safe, and Too Cheap to Meter!

    • by swb (14022)

      Usually, though, hot tubs, pools, and other extensive "features" don't add value. They all age, are expensive to reapir, and limit the home's resale appeal to peole who want those kind of features.

      The same is true of elaborate home automation or HVAC solutions. My guess is a solar power add-on that offered a substantial cut in power bills on a monthly basis with minimal maintenance costs might be a wash at best; anything less that, it's just an albatross to a buyer, something he doesn't want that will cost

  • by jroysdon (201893) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:30PM (#35917412) Homepage

    It sure beats living by nukes, coal plants, tire burning plants, etc., eh? Even a natural gas power generation plant isn't nice to live by. Plus, you don't have to worry about the neighbors being noisy.

    • by Rei (128717)

      I sure wouldn't mind living near a geothermal power plant like most Icelanders do. Instead of just electricity, you can also get piped-in waste heat, and who wouldn't want this [google.com] in their backyard? :) Most power generation methods's waste causes long-lasting environmental or health problems. Geothermal's waste causes health spas. ;)

    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @07:23PM (#35917650)

      It sure beats living by nukes, coal plants, tire burning plants, etc., eh?

      If I were on my roof, I could see a nuclear power plant. Doesn't bother me at all.

      If a coal plant were over there, I'd have moved years ago. Ditto tire-burning.

      • by Xtifr (1323)

        It sure beats living by nukes, coal plants, tire burning plants, etc., eh?

        If I were on my roof, I could see a nuclear power plant. Doesn't bother me at all.

        In most of the world, I'd agree with you. I'd be perfectly happy to live next door to nukes if I lived in the eastern 3/4ths of the country, or most of Europe or...a lot of other places. As we just saw in Japan, though, the Pacific Rim/ring of fire may not be the best place for your nuclear plants. And Berkeley is very much on an active fault line. If I lived in Berkeley, I think I'd have strong reservations about living next door to nukes.

        Right after the Japan quake/tsunami, the news folks tried to tel

        • by the gnat (153162)

          If I lived in Berkeley, I think I'd have strong reservations about living next door to nukes.

          Fortunately, the voters of Berkeley passed a law back in 1986 declaring the city a "nuclear-free zone", which guarantees that we will continue to get our electricity from hippie-friendly sources such as wind and solar. . . and gas and oil, of course (don't know about coal - I hope not). They even have signs announcing their moral purity at various roads into the city. True story: a couple of years ago, the public

  • Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:34PM (#35917430)

    This is one of the reasons why it's supposed to be worth it to install solar in some places. There's heavy subsidies that bring down the cost, and electricity rates are extremely high during parts of the day in California. And you get your money back instantly when you install the panels, because if you were to sell the house the next day, the sale price would be boosted by the value of the panels.

    Well, that's what they say, at least, and this article seems to prove it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sorry, but people arguing from a NIMBY perspective have never claimed that domestic solar power degrades home values. This is simply an attempt to attribute a completely illogical and unreasonable opposition to someone.

    It's likely that many NIMBY opponents have argued against wind farms based on a) their own personal taste as to what they can see outside their window, b) a perception that house prices will be affected negatively if what you see (and hear) are wind farms.

    If it's their own personal taste it c

    • by kf6auf (719514)
      I have heard it argued by a realtor that solar panels do not increase the value of the home as buyers tend to underestimate the remaining lifetime of the product. Of course, that was anecdotal and not a study with stated error bars.
    • Sorry, but people arguing from a NIMBY perspective have never claimed that domestic solar power degrades home values. This is simply an attempt to attribute a completely illogical and unreasonable opposition to someone.

      My HOA has a restriction against solar panels, with a justification/explanation that it would lower the values of nearby homes.

      My anecdote beats your "never" and I win.

  • by meza (414214) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:38PM (#35917448) Homepage

    The article mentions an avarage cost of $5000 to install 1 kW of solar, so it seems like a pretty good investment overall.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ShakaUVM (157947)

      It's closer to $6k per kW in my next of the woods (that's why I paid), but I'm sure you can find a company to do it for $5k. I went with a company that had done some installations in my neighborhood, though, and had a pretty good reputation.

      If you don't want to pay the money up front, you take out a loan, and use the monthly savings on your power bill to pay off the loan. As long as you're paying more than 24c/kWh you'll run a net positive balance, and end up with a solar system of your own after 10 years.

      T

      • Too bad electricity only costs me ~$0.08/kWh in Louisiana...

      • by Jerrry (43027)

        "It's closer to $6k per kW in my next of the woods (that's why I paid), but I'm sure you can find a company to do it for $5k. I went with a company that had done some installations in my neighborhood, though, and had a pretty good reputation."

        That's close to what mine cost ($80K for 12.5 KW). Even in summer with all 3 air conditioners running, my electric meter is still running backwards. Even it winter it's usually generating more power than we're using, expect on dark overcast or rainy days.

      • by corbettw (214229)

        The phrase is "neck of the woods". Just sayin'.

        As long as you're paying more than 24c/kWh you'll run a net positive balance, and end up with a solar system of your own after 10 years.

        Holy crap! Who pays that much for electricity? I'm in Dallas, and I just locked in a rate of 8/kWh for the next 12 months. I can't imagine paying 24/kWh, not when we typically use about 2000 kWhs in a month.

  • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:38PM (#35917452)

    These results contradict the arguments based on degrading home values used by [...] opponents

    Members of home associations that ban solar panels aren't really arguing that panels lower property prices, they're arguing "I don't want to see it". It's the same with most HA rules aimed at "protecting property values".

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>Members of home associations that ban solar panels aren't really arguing that panels lower property prices, they're arguing "I don't want to see it"

      Fortunately, here in California, it's explicitly illegal for HOAs to ban solar panel installations. They can hem and haw all they want (my HOA demanded to see the plans before "approving" installation), but they cannot stop you from putting it in, no matter what the CCNRs actually say.

      To be fair, there's issues with some solar panels (highly reflective c

    • by raygundan (16760) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:59PM (#35917538) Homepage

      Most states have specific laws that prevent HOAs from banning solar panels.

  • by DRMShill (1157993) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:42PM (#35917466)
    A few years ago I got a deal from Nevada Power where they paid for half the cost of a 5kwh array. It was working great until work forced me to relocate to another state. I had a hell of a time selling the place because the general public is just not technical enough to appreciate it. One potential buyer got a static shock from the carpet as is common in the dry vegas air. She actuually thought the solar power array caused it! How am I supposed to reason with that kind of stupidity?
  • No Kidding (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:54PM (#35917520) Homepage Journal

    No kidding - you put $30k in on a solar system and that raises house prices? Because people don't need to pay extortionate power rates? What a weird concept.

    The fact of the matter is, California has the highest power rates in the nation (I'd assign blame in equal parts to NIMBYs, environmentalists, PG&E, the PUC, and our legislature). Running air conditioning in the summer will kick you up into Tier 5 rates, which are currently around 50c/kWh. Getting a four digit power bill for one month is enough to convince even the most ardent anti-environmentalist of the value of solar.

    If you run the numbers, rooftop solar has a levelized cost of about 24c/kWh. So it's worth it to build out capacity to meet however much power you use in the higher tier rates (Tiers 3 through 5). You don't necessarily want to run your power bills to zero (Tiers 1 and 2 are subsidized by the higher rates), but if you do, PG&E will write you a check at the end of the year. (How much has yet to be determined.) Schwarzenegger got that pushed through at the end of his term of governor - before that, PG&E would just pocket any excess capacity you generate.

    I actually just had solar put in and finally turned on a couple weeks ago. It's nice running a net positive balance with PG&E, though it's still too cool for air conditioning.

    • After all air conditioning is a heat pump. You can buy a very simple fridge to run off the grid with a kerosene fuelled flame to expand the gas and a tub of water as the condenser. Why not use solar thermal to expand the gas?
      In places where it costs a fortune to run air conditioning on electricity surely it's worth cutting out the middle step and just get a bit of solar heat to do the work? It's not as if you need a reverse cycle for warming in the tropics and subtropics.
      There's plenty of solar thermal h
  • People who have money put in solar panels. People who have money ALSO live in rich neighborhoods. Who knew?
    • People who have money put in solar panels. People who have money ALSO live in rich neighborhoods. Who knew?

      That's what I was wondering. Do these tend to be in newer houses? Houses that have had other improvements?

      Did the study correct for such effects?

  • by Snorbert Xangox (10583) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @07:06PM (#35917574)

    This is not surprising, but not that encouraging either. If you pay for a bit of fancy landscaping and planting around your house before you sell it, you can often improve your house resale value by much more than the cost of the work. Solar also offers a warm glow of righteousness far out of proportion with energy generated.

    Where I live (50km south of Canberra, Australia), we're paying ~20 of your Earth cents for a kWh during the day around here, so if you assume 7kWh per day from a 1kW solar installation (not that hard here, as we get a lot of sun), it takes 14 years to earn back $3900. Electricity will certainly go up in cost during that time, but I wonder whether you wouldn't be better putting $4000 into some safe-ish investment and concentrating on reducing your energy usage instead.

    For years, I was holding out for Nanosolar or First Solar to get domestic panels out at somewhere nearer to $2/kW and without so much embodied energy in the panels, but they don't look to be interested in domestic sales. Until then, the only reason that panels are cheap in Australia is because of very high government regulated feed-in tariffs and purchase subsidies, which are just middle-class welfare masquerading as a renewable energy policy.

    Until the government killed the program, there were businesses here doing energy efficiency assessments to see if houses qualified for interest free government loans to improve energy efficiency or install solar systems. An interview I heard with one assessor gave the impression that most houses had considerable inefficiency to rectify before it made any sense installing generating capacity. New Australian houses are still much less insulated than new houses in northern Europe or North America, rely too much on resistive electrical heating for the house and for the hot water supply, and the current fashion for building faux-Mediterranean rendered boxes with no roof overhang guarantees high cooling costs in summer. Old Australian houses often had no (as in, ZERO) insulation in them. Visitors from northern Europe are amazed at how uncomfortable and slapdash many of our houses are.

    • You know your comment is just BEGGING for an "eh, convict labor...what do you expect" remark...

    • by j-beda (85386)

      Where I live (50km south of Canberra, Australia), we're paying ~20 of your Earth cents for a kWh during the day around here, so if you assume 7kWh per day from a 1kW solar installation (not that hard here, as we get a lot of sun), it takes 14 years to earn back $3900. Electricity will certainly go up in cost during that time, but I wonder whether you wouldn't be better putting $4000 into some safe-ish investment and concentrating on reducing your energy usage instead.

      7kWh x $0.20 x 365 = $511/year. That looks like 7.63 years to get to $3900. To "match" that, your $3900 would need to be invested to get a 13.1% yearly return in order to generate $511. 13% is not easy to come by.

      One often overlooked factor for energy saving or generating investments is that money saved is equivalent to a tax-free income. If you take your $3900 and manage to get a return of $511/year you would have to pay taxes on that income. I don't really know what the average tax rate is in Australia, b

      • by corbettw (214229)

        One often overlooked factor for energy saving or generating investments is that money saved is equivalent to a tax-free income.

        Don't trumpet that fact too loudly or the taxman will find a way to call cost savings "income" and tax you on it.

  • by PPH (736903)

    "A solar panel. That's just what we [drbukk.com] need to fix this place up, Daisy Mae".

  • by skidisk (994551) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @09:46PM (#35918328)

    I put panels up 6 years ago and they save roughly $2,000/year in electricity here in California ( my previous three years before panels were $6100; I've spent $300 over the last 6 years on electricity).

    A prospective home owner knows they won't have to pay that $2000/year on electricity, so if they pour that into a 4% loan, they can borrow an extra $35,000 for that roughly $160/mo savings.

    So to see a story say that my panels should be worth between $10K-$20K to a home buyer makes total sense.

  • by Ferretman (224859) <ferretman.gameai@com> on Saturday April 23, 2011 @11:11PM (#35918666) Homepage
    This doesn't surprise me, what with rising electrical costs.

    I just completed construction on a new house and went out of my way to put a hefty solar system (30 panels, ~6.6kwh) on it. I absolutely, positively, in every single way love it!

    Ferretman
  • People would not want to have a huge array of solar panels near them, but having solar panels on the roof is fine. Picture a quarter acre worth of solar panels taking up space next door to you to provide power to your neighbor....doesn't seem very attractive, so it lowers the surrounding property values. If your neighbor has solar panels on the roof, that won't generate that negative reaction.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @12:56AM (#35919068) Homepage Journal

    Costco is now selling solar PV systems [costco.com] including a 5060WDC for $18K, or $3.55:W. $5.50:W increased home value sounds like a good way to nearly double your investment in solar, even before the subsidies cut the cost to $2:W or less, tripling it or better.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @01:42AM (#35919238) Journal
    Seriously, in the USA, construction has all but died. What is currently going is high-end homes and business (including apartment). What would make sense at this time, would be to require that all new buildings in the lower 49, to have 1/2 or more of monthly HVAC done by Solar PV. Now, that sounds like a lot, but it really is not. What it WILL do is encourage construction firms to increase insulation esp. on windows. In addition, it will encourage builders to move to geothermal heat pumps. The reason is that they are cheap to install up front, but most importantly, they have similar energy requirements winter and summer.
    By requiring this, it will also make these places NOT compete against for-closed places. That later part is very important. The reason is that it prevents new homes from competing.

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