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Solar Energy

solar energy

Las Cruces is on the forefront of the green energy movement. The city is home to abundant geothermal and wind energy and has an average of 350 days of sunshine each year.

“Not taking advantage of solar energy in the desert is like living in the forest and building your home out of concrete,” said Mellow Honek, owner of Sunspot Solar Energy Services. “We’re just taking advantage of our own natural resources.”

The majority of energy generated in New Mexico is from natural gas, and the increased use of solar energy could very well keep coal power plants from ever needing to come to southern New Mexico. Power plants of all types, including plants that produce biofuels, consume prodigious amounts of water, a valuable commodity in the desert Southwest.

In fact, as solar becomes more expansive throughout the region, Las Cruces will be able to export the excess energy to other communities.

An Investment in the Future

Solar energy doesn’t just offer a way to protect the environment, but also a viable investment in a property. Although the rates of return are apt to change, Honek said the quicker a buyer invests in solar energy, the quicker they will receive a return on their investment.

Whether you are thinking of investing in solar water heating or a full photovoltaic for your home, a system will return on its investment in approximately eight to 10 years. No matter what the needs are of a home, solar energy can provide a benefit.

“Everyone pays an electric bill. If you don’t put photovoltaic on your house, over the next eight to 10 years you will pay the same amount of money you would have spent on the system directly to the electric company,” Honek said. “Waiting will only add to the cost of a system, and you can’t recover the money you’ve already sent to the electric company.”

Zeroing out a home’s electric bill will reimburse on the investment of the photovoltaic system, but there are other benefits as well. Initial investment can be claimed as a rebate on state and federal income taxes, 10 percent and 30 percent respectively, which is an immediate 40 percent rebate on the price of a system. The investment also will increase the value of home but will not be counted against the value for property tax purposes.

For those moving into a retirement home, solar systems provide an added benefit of allowing greater control on future finances. Electricity costs are sure to rise, and the ability to zero out an electric bill can take rising costs out of the picture.

“Having your own electricity machine puts you in control of your future. It makes it easier to plan the next 15 to 20 years of your life,” Honek said.

Huber said that many newcomers to the area think they won’t have to heat their swimming pools in the summer because of the heat, but that they are in for a cold shock on their first dip.

“Because we have low humidity here, there’s a lot of evaporation and the pool could actually cool down in the summer. A good solar system can provide uniform heating with no hot or cold spots, reduce or eliminate pool heating costs and extend your swimming system,” he said.

An Easy Addition

Although solar electric and heating systems have existed for decades, over the past few years their ease of use and installation have increased greatly. Solar systems have not moved as quickly as other technology, but with modern systems it is really no different than purchasing any other appliance.

“It’s so turn-key nowadays,” Honek said. “The better contractors take care of everything. It’s like ordering a pizza.”

Many buyers are concerned about the difficulty of installing a system in an existing home, but Honek says it is just as easy as new construction. In fact, existing structures make it easier for installers to size the system needed to zero out an electric bill.

“The quality of the systems and the quality of the companies installing them have all improved,” Huber said.

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