I attended the Plan It Green Conference last weekend and I found it both stimulating and frustrating. I was stimulated by the size of the crowd and the number of vendors. There’s clearly a great deal of interest in and “energy” around green technologies at least locally. Many of the vendors had interesting information to share. Though I didn’t see anything really mind blowing.
What frustrates me is the return on investment that using many of the green solutions still offers. Or rather, the lack of return on investment. For example, one solar water heater provider had a formula that after base cost and rebates, the total installation of the solar water heater system was close to $7,000. Based on their estimates you could recoup that cost in 6-9 years. This is still on the upper reaches of most home owners. First, the initial cash outlay is high. Getting the rebates most likely a process of filing documents and waiting several weeks, if not months. Finally, unless you are sure you are going to stay in you home for 6-9 years, you will never recover the total of that initial investment. Unless maybe you could increase the sales price for having the system. Finally, in 6-9 years the whole industry will probably have changed and your 2011 solar system will probably look 19th century.
Somehow the price/value relationship is going to have to change for there to be widespread consumer adoption of many of these technologies. Either the current energy sources are going to have to continue to skyrocket in cost or some kind of subsidies are going to need to help solve the cost issue for most homeowner.
At least that was the impression I was left with. I would be happy to learn that I am wrong. Let me know. Please!