Investing in the future takes on a new meaning if you factor in climate change. Because of inversion, Utah is one of the few places in the world where you can actually see the direct effects of industry and pollution on the Earth at a smaller scale. While the world is unlikely to be doomed in the next 10-15 years, being a little greener certainly won’t hurt. Investing a bit of money on environmental practices and technology to save the planet might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but what if some of these investments bring in another kind of green?
Solar Homes -$14,000-$16,000
If you think that solar panels are too big of an investment and you’re unlikely to get your money back, you are grossly mistaken. Residential solar power systems pay for themselves in 10 years, doubling and then tripling your investments in savings in the decades that follow. While the initial cost of an 8-kW solar power system might seem steep, federal tax incentives cut purchase costs by 26 percent. This effectively brings costs down to around $10,0000-$12000 per system. Utah’s own solar incentives cut another $2,000 for a final price of $8,000-$10,000. An 8-kW system will be able to cover all of your household’s energy consumption during the day and send enough excess electricity to the grid to cover your nighttime use, effectively bringing your electricity bill to zero. With proper 10-year solar financing in Utah, you can pay off the monthly dues on your panels with the savings from your electricity bill. Solar panels typically last for 35-45 years, so you’ll have another 25-35 years of free electricity, saving you $25,000-$35,000 over that period.
Electric Cars – $30,000-$50,000
The prices of electric cars have been dropping, and these days you can buy a decent one for $30,000 (the Nissan Leaf). Federal incentives (Plug-in Electric Drive Vehicle Vehicle Credit) cut the cost by $7,000, making electric cars cost about as much as a standard vehicle. Electric cars outperform standard cars in every aspect except for mileage, making electric cars more than just a viable option. The average American motorist spends $3,000 on fuel per year or $30,000 during the 10-year lifetime of a vehicle. Charging an electric car costs a fraction of that cost (around $3-$5 for a full charge) and the savings you get on fuel over 10 years more than compensates for the price of the car. If you charge your car from your own solar energy system, your car is practically free and you won’t be contributing to winter inversion problems.
Home Gardens – $300-$2000
Setting up a vegetable garden in your backyard doesn’t require a lot of money or effort. You can have the makings of a decent garden for less than $300, but the price can go up to $2,000 if you opt for a bit of landscaping and extra sprinkler systems. Growing your own greens ensures they won’t be tainted with unknown chemicals or toxins. Plus, it saves you a trip to the market. According to the National Gardening Association, a 500-square foot garden can produce $500 worth of vegetables per year.
Certain environmental practices give new meaning to going green. When going green rakes in real dollars, then you can save the earth while saving on cash.