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Advances in technology have made electric vehicles and solar energy cost-effective options for many Utahns. It’s a great time to invest in cleaner options, support Utah’s economy, improve our air quality and put money back in your pocket.

The Deseret News recently interviewed me for a story on my family’s decision to embrace clean energy products, including an electric vehicle, EV home charger and solar panels. As I read the comments on the article and on social media, I noticed several of them mirrored my prior misperceptions about “going clean” that I held before doing some research.

In an effort to clear the air, I wanted to share three of the biggest misconceptions I had before my family invested in clean energy.

Myth 1: My family can’t afford an electric vehicle or solar panels

My husband and I initially thought we would have to spend tens of thousands of dollars before we could make changes that would benefit the environment.

Our first realization that this wasn’t the case was when we were in the market for another car. We weren’t even looking for an EV, but my husband was browsing KSL Classifieds and came upon a used Nissan Leaf with less than 10,000 miles for only around $10,000. While new EVs are still pricey, we couldn’t believe what a bargain used ones were going for! We bought it, and our EV has quickly become our favorite car for commuting and running errands around town. If your family has more than one car, having an inexpensive, clean vehicle to use for the majority of your local driving can have a big impact, even if you have to use a gas-powered car for some longer trips.

Our second realization occurred a few months ago after speaking with a friend who worked for Vivint Solar. He shared how we could pay for our panels over time with an affordable monthly payment and also told us about the opportunity to bundle a rooftop solar system from Vivint Solar with an EV charging station from ChargePoint. For no money down, we were able to install solar panels on our roof and an EV charger in our garage. For a low fixed cost each month, we can now generate our energy and charge our EV at a much faster rate. While every family’s financial situation is different, we were surprised by how attainable these products are for everyday Utahns.

Myth 2: Solar takes forever to begin paying dividends on your investment

Once the panels were installed on our roof, the savings began quickly. Even in winter, we pay less per month for electricity. In fact, the combined cost of our monthly loan payment and utility bill is less than what we previously paid for electricity.

Our power bill is lower because we use less power from the grid. In addition, net metering with Rocky Mountain Power means that we get credit for any extra power we generate that we don’t use, further lowering our bill. As power rates go up over time our savings will grow as well since the cost of our system remains fixed.

Myth 3: One person can’t make a difference in improving our air quality

Salt Lake City has the dubious distinction of being ranked seventh on the American Lung Association’s top 10 list of most polluted cities in the country. Breathing polluted air is a serious risk to Utahns’ health. The medical evidence is overwhelming. Even short-term exposure to air pollution harms our health. Air pollution increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cancer, and it contributes to shorter lifespans. Each year my patients complain of asthma exacerbations and a host of breathing problems due to our air pollution.

Vehicle emissions account for roughly 50 percent of local air pollution, so driving a zero-emission vehicle is a great way to make a difference in your immediate air shed at the local level. Solar also helps reduce the amount of electricity you use from the grid. Individual actions can make a major collective impact in improving the air quality in our communities.

24 comments on this story

Transitioning to cleaner energy has been an illuminating experience for us. I’ve realized many of the assumptions I had about this process were off the mark. It has been a much simpler – and more affordable – step for our family than we expected. For anyone on the fence about going solar or driving an electric vehicle (or both!), I would recommend taking some EVs for a test drive and getting some bids on solar panel systems.

Advances in technology have made EVs and solar energy cost-effective options for many Utahns. It’s a great time to invest in cleaner options, support Utah’s economy, improve our air quality and put money back in your pocket.