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As the years have passed and I have continued to work hard at what I do, it seems unlikely that anyone would question my position on climate change. Climate change is happening, and is happening at a much faster pace than even the worst pessimists predicted. If we don’t do something about it now, our children and grandchildren won’t have any control over the effects. It’s that simple–for me.
Even though the preponderance of evidence worldwide shows the planet warming as a result of human use of carbon based fuels, however, public opinion is somehow still divided. American politics have evolved to a point where people who view government as a good thing and people who view government as a bad thing have grown to despise one another. As a result, even though you may believe that there might be something to this climate change phenomenon, the mere association of it with the “left” or Democratic party makes it crap. I’m willing to bet that in this election year when pretty much everyone other than our politicians believes that we HAVE to start working together and listening to different views, there might be a way to create the paradigm shift necessary to save our planet.
Whether you love or hate it, there’s no doubt that the government will have to create legislation to get to a point where alternatives to carbon fuel make more economic sense than not. And you, as a consumer, can use your voice through the decision you make. You can make a life change to reduce your own carbon footprint. You can vote for people who believe the economics of fossil fuel is a losing one. It’s an election year, so do your research and go vote this November.
The other part of the equation lies in your choice on how to live your life. You can make no greater impact on your children’s future than when you do three things: 1. Make your home more energy efficient, 2. Electrify your car, and 3. Eat less meat. You will have to research 2 and 3, but let me show you how to do 1 the smartest way possible:
I’m going to use an example of a home here in Greenville. The homeowner feels strongly about his safeguarding a healthy future for his family by taking steps to remediate climate change. He wants to make his home net zero and buy an electric car. Needless to say, this is a rare situation. This homeowner is deeply empathetic and feels the world is reaching the tipping point in time where a conscious choice to do something will have come and gone. Now is the time to act. Here’s the thing, if he does this and tells his friends about it, a LOT more people will do the same. It makes good economic sense.
So let’s say the home is an example I took from Zillow in Greenville. It’s 1,650 square feet of conditioned space and has a value of $170,000. At Benton Green Energy, we see these homes all the time. The average utility bill for a home like this is about $170 per month. This means the homeowner will need to eliminate that amount to get to the point where they make more electricity than they use. There are two approaches to reaching this goal:
Option 1: Buy a solar array that produces that amount of electricity (or more if they have gas appliances). This would call for about a twelve KW array. At $3.50 a watt, the initial investment would be $42,000. That’s a lot of money. With the current incentives in South Carolina, which are finite and likely won’t last unless you act within the next year, you will get about half back, making your investment $21,000. Almost all of the solar installers, including the company we work closely with out of Asheville, Solfarm, and my company can get you financing with fair to decent credit.
Option 2: My company comes in and installs new insulation in the attic along with our phase change building materials, we insulate the walls with airkrete cementitious foam, and we encapsulate your crawl space. Once that is done, we will properly size and commission a new heating and cooling system with new ductwork, then install an ultra efficient heat pump water heater. We’ll also convert your lighting over to predominantly LEDs. This will run roughly $15,000, but then you will only need a 3 kilowatt array to get to net zero, which will be $10,500. Total investment then becomes about $25,500, and you get about $4,000 in incentives. This is almost exactly the same investment as option1. The difference? You have a net zero home, plus a new heating and cooling system, new water heater, new insulation and phase change materials, and a solar array, but with less property value-added tax. We can get you zero interest financing for two years! Your home is going to be much healthier from an indoor air quality standpoint, have fewer long-term problems with moisture, be safer from fire, and may immediately be worth more if you put it on the market. This is because a prospective homeowner is going to see these things about your home: 1. Net zero, 2. New heating and cooling system, 3. Encapsulated crawl space, 4. Ventilation system, 5. Much safer from fire, and 6. Charging station for new Tesla (believe it or not, it’s about a $700 add-on to the pricing here). Who wouldn’t consider that home?
So call us! Let me show you how you can start something really cool in your neighborhood-something your kids will always remember.
Dean Benton, President
Benton Green Energy
Scott Kelly, President of Carolina Heating Service
I first ran into Dean at a customer house several years ago. He was doing an energy audit where I was upgrading the HVAC system. Dean had recommended some upgrades to the home which greatly reduced the customer’s utility bill.