The idea of investing in renewable energy can be a pretty exciting one for business owners. There's the sense of getting in on the ground floor of a movement that's sweeping the world and offers the chance to improve our collective quality of life. Don't get too swept up in the marketing though; take the time to look objectively at how your company can benefit from green energy. Here are four major ways that switching to solar power can improve your company.
1. It Can Slash Your Energy Bill
The most direct benefit from investing in solar energy is the long-term savings on your energy bill. Solar power bought on the open market is itself a good investment now that the cost is competitive with oil. In 2017, the cost of solar energy dropped to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour, beating government targets by three years. Actually installing a solar power system is obviously a viable option for cost savings as well, since every watt you don't have to buy is more money in your coffers. The average breakeven time where installation costs are made up for by the savings is about six to nine years, so understand that this is a long-term investment in your company's future. An energy audit can help with determining ROI.
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Don't forget about the vast array of tax breaks and incentives for switching to solar. The federal government offers the investment tax credit (ITC) which lets you deduct 26% of the cost of installation from your federal taxes. This deduction applies to both commercial and residential properties. There are also many state and local incentives being offered. Currently, California, Minnesota and Texas are the leaders in sheer number of state incentives and programs, which is a good sign that renewable energy is transitioning from being dependent on politics to just being good business sense.
2. It Makes You Energy Independent
It's not just the cost savings themselves that make good business sense. Getting off the grid, or at least reducing your reliance upon it, can have a huge impact on your company. We live in uncertain economic times and it's been that way for a while now. The price of oil continues to fluctuate as supply and demand change based often upon the vagaries of global finance. Solar energy removes that volatility from the equation to a large degree. The cost of solar power is dependent mostly on the inherent efficiency of photovoltaic systems themselves, which is improving all the time. Sure, changes in insolation can affect the power output of your personal panels, but the price of the energy itself on the market stays the same, so if you purchase solar energy from a power supplier, you still benefit from the price stability. Budgets can't be balanced on hopes and dreams. Businesses run on solid numbers, and renewables give us peace of mind simply by being more consistent than oil.
3. It Means Your Company is Sustainable
Beyond questions of cost savings, going solar means that your company is going sustainable. But what does that mean? It means that your company's leadership recognizes ecology and economics as interconnected. Acknowledging that we and our businesses are a part of the world around us requires an evolution of awareness. The science of biomimicry and biophilic design aims to leverage technology to bridge that gap in consciousness. It goes beyond a focus on green energy alone, exploring ways to make buildings themselves more energy efficient through concepts such as daylighting and plant-based air filtration. This isn't just about helping the planet. A sustainable company can keep functioning over the long-term where others can't because of the resiliency to change that comes with the entire philosophy of working with the world instead of against it. It's a statement that your business is here to stay.
4. It Tells Consumers You Care
Even if solar energy wasn't economical, it would still be ethical. Sometime during the past two decades, a tipping point was slowly reached in which public opinion swung massively in favor of corporate environmental responsibility. According to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll taken in 2019, 76% of Americans at least consider global warming to be a significant threat. A separate study found an even more sobering statistic: Around 40% of millennials would choose to work for a company based upon that company's sustainability practices. The bottom line is that investment in green energy not only matters to your potential customers, but also to the sort of ambitious and forward-thinking job-seekers who tend to make excellent employees.
It's easy to see that the numbers are on the side of the solar energy industry. This doesn't mean business owners should jump in without weighing all of their options. Do you research and find out what path is right for your business so you can make the most of the green energy revolution.