The green home craze is finally taking off in the U.S., and for good reason: Homes consume a lot of energy, which not only contributes to global warming, pollution and other unsustainable situations, but also costs a lot of money.
Many people in certain areas of the country are spending big money to outfit their homes with solar panels, high R-value windows and high efficiency appliances, hoping that the energy savings from these items will justify their investment in the long run. However, there are some who think that it is too early for us to make truly green homes at a price point that allows for a return on investment.
Solar power or LED lights?
As Lois Vitt Sale, writing for ProudGreenHome.com, outlined in an article, the price for solar is still extremely high. In her area, the panels needed to generate a steady kilowatt of power cost between $6,000 and $6,500. While these panels may pay for themselves over time, the initial investment is high enough that buyers like Sale aren’t ready to enter the market.
She points out that this may change in the near future. A few years prior, the same panels would have cost between $8,000 and $10,000. It’s worth noting that Sale’s article was written a few years ago, and already the cost of solar panels has fallen to as low as $4,500, according to SunRun.com.
At the time of writing, however, Sale preferred to go for low-hanging fruit, like installing LEDs instead of incandescent. These easy-to-accomplish elements of a green home are important, as they tend to yield the highest return on investment.
Scott Adams shares his experience
Scott Adams, creator of hit cartoon “Dilbert,” put a lot of work and a considerable amount of money into building his own green home, the troubles with which he detailed in a piece for The Wall Street Journal. He installed photovoltaic panels, water-heated floors and a whole house fan in the attic – in short, the works.
While the home is absolutely green, he suggests that it may not be paying for itself. The photovoltaic system, for example, is supposed to pay for itself over the course of 15 years, but as of yet, he suspects that he is still being charged by the energy company. Further, he explains that the most economical thing to do would have been to wait a few years until the price of photovoltaic panels comes down considerably, as it is predicted to. The heated floors are theoretically more efficient, but so comfortable that Adams and his family use them more than they might another solution.
While it may have been too soon for Adams’ green house to be economically viable, he makes a point that early adopters like him are the reason that prices will come down in the near future. Tell us what you think: Is it too soon for a truly green home?