In our interview of last June, Michael Liebreich, the CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, had a simple solution for market-weary investors -- at least for those of us who live in sunny states. Invest in solar panels. The panel prices are at an historic low. Tax credits reward homeowners for energy efficiency upgrades (including solar panels). And, as Liebreich pointed out, "You don't get taxed on the savings, and no asset manager can lose it all for you."
According to Liebreich, "If you pay quite high rates mid-day, then you should put solar on your roof, even now, without subsidy. Solar is going to get cheaper and cheaper to the point where within two or three years, in every sunny country, having solar panels on your roof will be cheaper than buying from your utility."
In a world where energy costs are going up, and will continue to, while fixed income folks are getting squeezed from all sides, every dollar you can strip from your monthly grind is a big help. Going solar equates to $1300/year savings in utility bills for the average American (with a utility bill averaging $108/month). If yours is higher, the savings will be even more. Plus, in most states, the power company pays you if you generate more than you use. That's equivalent to an immediate 6.5 percent ROI on $20,000 investment, and an additional $1300 or more in your wallet every year -- for life.
There are two conferences this month, one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast, that offer outstanding model homes and energy education for homeowners. The Solar Decathlon in Irvine, California, features 19 university teams competing for the honor of the coolest solar home. The Solar Decathlon is going on this weekend, through October 13, 2013, and is very family-friendly event, complete with tours of the homes, food trucks and workshops for kids.
The Passive House Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania showcases Matrix-style energy dwellings that can reduce your heating bill by up to 90 percent, even without solar panels. The conference runs from Oct. 15-18, with a project tour on Saturday, October 19, 2013. You can learn more about Passive Homes in my Huffington Post blog on "The Hottest Thing in Housing," from December 4, 2012.
If you've installed solar panels, or insulated your home according to the Passive House model, I'd love to hear from you. Please reach out in the comments below.