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The Heart of Money: Is Solar a Good Investment?

[Paul pictured with his oldest son, who heads to university this fall.]

I’ve managed to build up a small nest egg. But rather than setting it aside for retirement savings right away, I’m thinking of investing in a photovoltaic system for my house. By my calculation, I’d actually save more on my energy bills than I could earn in the current stock market! What say you?Paul Sutherland: The risk-adjusted math on energy systems seems to work in favor of investing in a system over nearly any other “investment.” Of course, the returns on your system will depend on your area’s energy costs, utility and grid constraints, tax incentives, and exposure to sunlight. In places like California, Hawaii, and Colorado, the returns on solar systems make them a compelling investment—especially if you plan to stay in your home for five years or longer. Right now, solar water heaters seem to offer the most bang for your buck. A financial planner or accountant can help you get a more accurate idea of exactly how much you stand to save. If the numbers look as positive as your own back-of-the-envelope estimates, go ahead and save the earth—and your money—with my blessing.When I read about the peopl …

About the Author

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland resides in Michigan with his four youngest kids, ages 5 to 10. He and his wife, Amy, try to be an example of Parenting for a Peaceful world, in which democracy begins at home.

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