Installing solar panels on a home’s roof is a better investment than a pension, a British minister recently said. Greg Barker, Britain’s minister of state for energy and climate change, said that anyone approaching retirement should consider putting some of their savings into solar panels because they would deliver a better financial return than a pension.
Mr. Barker disclosed that over 500,000 British homes have installed solar panels, which allow users to generate their own electricity and sell any excess power to energy firms.
But does that hold true for retirement planning in the U.S.?
Today’s life expectancy in America is eight years longer than it was in 1970. That’s eight more years to enjoy retirement—and eight more years of savings required to support that retirement. Various economic factors can threaten a comfortable retirement, such as fluctuating property values and interest rates, higher living and health-care expenses, and a lower percentage of employer contributions to retirement programs. A well-planned retirement strategy is crucial.
Stuart Ritter, vice president of T. Rowe Price Investment Services, says it can be difficult to stay on budget while trying to make a lump sum last 30 years, especially in the first years of retirement. “That’s why we encourage people to think of it more in terms of income [stream], and not as a balance.”
One way to generate steady revenue is sunlight—a source on which we can rely. Many homeowners have discovered that by purchasing their own solar energy system and harnessing the sun’s energy to produce their own power, they can collect a steady paycheck without lifting a finger.
An investment in solar energy has much lower risk than most alternative investments. Once installed, solar panels work away, making energy with no moving parts except electrons. History has shown that solar systems last well beyond their stated lifetime of 25 years.
Homeowners throughout the country are seizing the opportunity. An astonishing 40,000 homeowners added solar energy systems in just the first three months of 2014, with particularly strong growth in the Northeast. One of the reasons is that homeowners entering their retirement years want a safe, predictable cost for their energy.
This is SunUp Solar’s standard disclaimer about the need for a careful evaluation of each unique property to determine if and how to best adapt solar to that property. Like any other kind of property improvement, solar requires an inspection by a professional to take site conditions into account. In the case of solar, these include roof size, pitch and orientation, shading issues, the status of the property’s electrical system and the property’s electrical billing history. This is routine for us and it is absolutely necessary to provide an accurate proposal for property owners. We use satellite photos, such as Google Earth, to get a general idea of your property’s situation. Unlike some companies, we will not provide a firm quote until one of our Energy Consultants has visited the property, done the proper analysis, and discussed the project thoroughly with the property owners. We stand behind our work and must have customers that are pleased with every aspect of their solar project.