First Person: I Wish I Could Afford Alternative Energy

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Alternative energy may be the future, but right now it does not necessarily appear to be within reach for the consumer or for big business. I have a feeling that this will continue to be a political issue, but for me it is more an issue of cost-effectiveness. As much as alternative energy is appealing, there aren't many solar cars or windmill-powered houses on the market. Do I need to make an ideological commitment to alternative energy regardless of cost, or can I continue to respond financially to what the market provides?

Small solutions

I have experimented with solar energy on a very small scale. Instead of buying a standard turbine for the roof of my garage, I purchased a solar-powered fan from a warehouse store in order to cool the attic space. The unit works fine, but it was fairly expensive compared to a standard turbine. The motor isn't as powerful as a regular electric motor, and I have a feeling that the unit will not necessarily pay for itself in electricity anytime soon. I don't know if I would purchase this unit again, even though it may represent the future of energy.

Bigger solutions?

While I haven't spent a lot of time on research, I have looked into powering my house with solar panels since I live in Southern California. The cost is large enough that I would need a reasonably large home equity loan in order to afford this kind of project. Interestingly, I have had solar panel companies call me and ask if I am interested in solar systems. When I tell them my monthly electric bill, they don't bother trying to sell me panels since my bill isn't high enough. Apparently, it would take too long to make the purchase worthwhile.

What is the incentive?

What is my incentive to commit my hard-earned money to alternative energy? The tough part of making these sorts of lifestyle changes is that there needs to be some sort of financial incentive. Again, I can make an ideological commitment, but I am afraid that in this case ideology may be a bit too expensive. I don't necessarily expect the government to subsidize alternative energy, but I wonder if the free market will actually create a lot of affordable alternatives in the future.

In the meantime, I will wait patiently for my solar-powered car.

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