In the United States many are looking to reduce their carbon footprint and looking towards solar energy as a means to provide power to their home. This can be an expensive proposition.
When the economists look at costs they look at dollars spent and intangible benefits. So when calculating the cost of solar energy one needs to look at the dollar costs in addition to the positive effects it has on one's peace of mind and lifestyle. In other words, if an individual spends a large amount of capital on initial investment that will not be realized for 10 to 15 years it may be seen as an unwise investment. However, if that user of solar energy gets so much benefit by feeling good about their purchase because it reduces their carbon footprint, that is an intangible benefit that makes the investment worthwhile.
Let's look at actual costs for solar energy. Using a study on solar homes, we see that a typical house in the Northeast has a total energy bill of approximately $3500 a year and uses about $2000 for heating and hot water, with the remaining $1500 going toward electricity.
It would typically cost between $100,000 and $200,000 to convert a house like this into a house that could run independently on solar energy using retrofit products and commercial installers. In addition, if the roof is too small, or faces the wrong way and cannot absorb enough sunlight, it may not even be possible to make this kind of retrofit work.
While you may be able to purchase a few piece meal solar energy products, those would not give you serious energy independence. If you really wanted in energy independent house it would cost you just as much to build it from the ground up than to retrofit what you already have.
The cost of solar energy is so high because there is still very little competition to drive down prices. In addition, many critics of the government find the current regulations that do not allow homeowners to install their own systems are too restrictive. While there are rebates for purchases of solar equipment, many feel they do not overcome the restrictions. Critics feel that our government is still in the pocket of large fossil fuel oil corporations and is not taking enough initiative to lead the way in promoting the use of solar energy.
Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for Web sites on solar energy, parenting, fashion, and home decor. Her background also includes teaching, gardening, and health and fitness. For more of her useful articles on energy conservation, please visit Solar Power Knowledge Project .