The sun’s rays are free, and the systems needed to convert them to electricity are getting smarter, less expensive and more sophisticated all the time. So it’s not surprising that forward thinkers have taken the plunge: Warren Buffett, for example, has invested $15 billion in solar power and has expressed his desire to double that investment.
Now solar power has local evangelists—Orrie and Rebekah Boss, founders of Boss Energy, a Charleston-based company dedicated to spreading the gospel and dispelling the myths about solar to all those who live on the cutting edge. The Bosses are helping builders, and sellers and owners of homes recognize that investments in solar energy slash costs, hike property values, are kind to the environment and—surprise!—look awesome.
Orrie Boss notes that with an average of five hours of sunshine a day, the region is ripe for solar power. “Boss Energy is dedicated to helping the community develop smart and efficiently and, in doing so, change how people see solar,” he says.
Here are some of the benefits, according to Boss, of going solar. A Good Investment Solar power offers monetary dividends to sellers and investors alike. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that homes with solar systems sell 20 percent faster than comparable homes powered by conventional methods. The same research determined that solar energy increases property values by 17 percent. This suggests that installing a solar energy system might offer a better return on investment for a homeowner than remodeling a kitchen or bathroom.
Savings accrue day-to-day as well. South Carolina has the highest energy rates in the South, with SCE&G rates rising 24 percent since 2009. And those hikes will continue as federal regulations increase. A solar setup can offset part or all of that utility bill with what is essentially free power. In fact, Boss says that installing solar can save homeowners tens of thousands of dollars over 20 years.
In bygone days, upfront installation costs could sink solar projects, but prices have plummeted by almost half in the last five years, so much of the current cost is offset. Federal and state tax credits can halve the cost—and some utilities offer incentives on top of that. Easy financing is available to spread the payments over as many as 12 years, and terms are transferable if the home is sold.
Many builders, homeowners and investors believe that solar panels can make a home look “homely.” But advancements in design and engineering mean that solar-powered houses are now as beautiful on the outside as on the inside. Conventional solar panels can be coordinated to blend into the building’s skin. Innovations in building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) mean that solar panels incorporate gorgeously into a building’s envelope. By installing roof shingles that incorporate BIPV seamlessly into the construction of the house, or by retrofitting it into existing homes, Boss Energy is literally changing the way people see solar.
Peace of Mind
In a state that’s susceptible to natural and man-made disasters, Boss’ solar systems add another dimension: security. Add a storage component, like a battery, and you have post-disaster power that can run a generator whenever needed. Boss says the value of peace of mind is hard to overstate. Even if the community is out of power for long periods, you can continue to run your business, keep food cold, charge your phone and stay up-to-date with information on the Web or TV, he says. The battery begins refueling once the sun rises.
Here and Now
Boss Energy is the exclusive local dealer for Atlantis Energy Systems, a leader in BIPV technology that manufactures in the United States. “Atlantis Energy Systems offers the most aesthetically pleasing, modern and powerful BIPV roof products on the market,” says Boss.
Part of the company’s ethos moves beyond cookie-cutter solutions; Orrie Boss gets to know his clients before recommending a system that’s best for them. “We partner with some of the top designers, engineers, suppliers and builders,” says Boss, “giving us the ability to design a truly custom system that beautifully adds to your home while raising its value and saving you money.”
He adds: “We believe that, in time, we won’t be talking about solar energy; it’ll just be energy, much of which will derive from the sun, whose magnificent power is totally renewable, zero-emission and free to all.” The question for businesses and consumers, Boss says, is whether they’re going to be on the leading edge or wait years to accrue the benefit.
Barry Waldman is chief thinker and doer at Write Stuff Communications.