19 Jun 2008
What is the Payback on Your New Solar Panels, and Should You Care?
Here’s just a quick and not really fully-formed thought for a Thursday morning. I have finally, as part of the Transition Town Totnes Solar Hot Water Challenge‘, signed up to get solar panels put on our roof. Took a while, but I am going for flat bed panels rather than evacuated tubes (to see why read this). The plan is to get them up while there is still some summer sun to take advantage of. The question I find myself asked though when I tell people about it is “but what is the payback on them?” Now I have to say honestly that I have no idea, I haven’t sat down and worked it out, but what intrigues me is that nature of that question.
It is not a question we ask when someone buys a new TV, a car, an i-pod, mobile phone, a swimming pool, a boat, a sofa, new carpets, a DVD player, a jacuzzi, a fitted kitchen, a new cooker, a motorbike, timber decking for the garden, a new conservatory, a caravan, a new fridge, a holiday, a computer, a printer, a double bass, a new chest of drawers or a painting.
Somehow all these things it is OK to buy because we want them, we think they will make us happier, or because we feel we need them. When it comes to solar panels those criteria no longer apply. Odd that. I am buying them because they will increase the resilience of my family, they will reduce our footprint, make us less oil vulnerable, but ultimately it is actually because I want them, in exactly the same way that people want the things on the list above.
I have no idea of the payback (although I guess I am assuming that there will be one), I suppose for me I see them as being essential, whereas most of the other things on the list aren’t. Will rising oil prices move people in the same direction, or will such things become seen more and more as an unaffordable luxury? I suppose it depends to what extent people want them, and what we can do to help generate that….