Preserving the Environment

Who Needs Gasoline When You Have the Sun?

November 5, 2014
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Who Needs Gasoline When You Have the Sun?
More eco-conscious car owners are opting not only to drive hybrid vehicles, but to power them with solar-generated electricity. George Frey/Getty Images
Car owners are going the extra mile for eco-friendly driving.

What’s greener than an owning an electric vehicle (EV)? Owning one that’s powered with your home’s solar panels.

There’s a growing number of these extra eco-conscious do-gooders. The Associated Press reports that more people own both panels and an electric car, based upon findings on the growth of electric and plug-in hybrid car sales (97,563 were sold in the U.S. last year, up 83 percent from the prior year), as well as the sharp increase in residential solar installations (up 21 percent in the second quarter of this year).

This new trend is encouraging because it might convince more people to make the switch to solar or purchase an EV, or both. The biggest reason why people don’t buy electric cars or install panels is because it’s expensive. But as the AP illustrates with the story of Chevrolet Volt owner Kevin Tofel, having solar on his roof and also an EV in his garage pays for itself over time.

MORE: This Amazing Home Creates More Energy Than It Uses

Tofel, a Telford, Penn. resident, powers his plug-in hybrid with his home’s 41 solar panels. He tells the AP that he paid $51,865 for his solar array, but that expense was reduced to $29,205 after state and federal tax credits. He found that his panels can generate 13.8 megawatt hours of electricity, but since he only needed 7.59 megawatt hours for his household, he decided to trade his gas guzzling Acura RDX for a Volt to help suck up that excess solar power. The $250 he used to spend each month on gasoline for his Acura is now down to only $50, which he only buys when he’s not near a charging station for his EV. Tofel adds (we imagine very happily) that his Volt will help reduce his break-even point on his solar investment from 11.7 years to only six years.

Naturally, he says he and his family “will never go back to an all-gas car.”

We’ve said before that home solar systems have hit the mainstream: the number of homes and businesses in the United States that are powered by the sun’s rays is now more than 500,000. And now that more consumers are open to eco-friendly cars (and the fact they’re about to get much cheaper), the future looks brighter than ever.

DON’T MISS: Going Solar Is Cheaper Than Ever. Here’s What You Need to Know About Getting Your Power From the Sun

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