Over the past few years, the technology has steadily been improving, and the costs have been coming down. It’s not just for big corporations anymore. Small- to medium-sized businesses can afford to invest in solar, and the returns are well worthwhile.
Although installing solar panels requires an upfront investment, over time, it can substantially reduce your energy costs. The average commercial property owner that goes solar reduces their monthly electricity bill by 75 percent.
If you install enough solar capacity to cover your full bill, you could end up paying zero to the utility company. You may even be able to sell excess energy back to the grid and make money from your solar panels, depending on the rules where you live. Programs that allow you to sell electricity back to utilities at a set price are known as net metering or feed-in tariff policies and might be available from your local government or utility.
You can reduce the costs of the upfront investment of installing solar through government, utilities and even non-profit companies that work to promote solar energy. State and local incentives vary from location to location.
The U.S. federal government offers a 30 percent credit called the Solar Investment Tax Credit. In Australia, businesses that install solar systems earn small-scale technology certificates, which serve as a currency that can be used to recover the costs of installing solar panels or traded to other companies.
Once you pay to install the equipment, you’re set for some time. Most solar panels are guaranteed to maintain at least 80 percent of their rated efficiency over 25 years . Solar systems also typically require very little maintenance. If you don’t want to buy your system outright, you can also choose one of several leasing and financing options.
Generating your own electricity gives you an independence that is hard to come by any other way. You aren’t reliant on a utility company, or at least you’re much less reliant on them. You also won’t have to worry about rising costs of electricity generated with natural gas or other fuel sources.
When you install solar on your property, you’re essentially buying all of your electricity for at least the next 30 years in advance — but at a much lower rate. Many states that use net metering allow you to lock in your rate for a predetermined amount of time, providing your company with increased certainty about your future energy costs and any income from excess solar.
Of course, solar energy is also better for the environment than fossil fuels since it’s emission-free. Going solar is good for the environment, and it’s good for business as well.
Installing solar panels on your property will position your brand as environmentally conscious, tech-friendly and forward thinking — all important attributes for attracting customers and investors. Employees will also likely be happy to know that they work for a company that values sustainability.
Are you considering solar?
If you’re considering installing solar for your business, start by assessing how much energy you typically use . This will help you decide how large your system will be. You should also explore what financial incentives are available and the policies that apply in your area.
Then, you can start working with an accredited solar installer who can help you determine where to place your system and the best kind of system for your business.
Solar is well-known for being good for the environment, but it offers plenty of benefits to businesses as well. From lower operating costs to an improved reputation, going solar will have your business walking on sunshine for years to come.
This is a guest post written by Emily Folk.
Emily is a conservation and sustainability writer.
She is the editor of Conservation Folks, and you can see her latest updates by following her on Twitter.