In the digital age, it’s not so uncommon for America’s movers and shakers to forgo a formal press conference and opt to make an announcement on social media. After all, the president does so all the time, so why shouldn’t the country’s best and brightest? But while many are loath to see a late-night tweet from Donald J. Trump, a bedtime social media appearance from Elon Musk bears nothing but good news. Case in point: Musk just announced via Twitter that Tesla’s solar roofing system is finally available for pre-sale.
The company is now accepting deposits for its system of solar roof tiles, with installations beginning as early as June. While solar panels have been around for a while, a major drawback for consumers has been their bulky, obvious appearance. Since a home’s roof generally represents around 40% of its exterior visual impression, these panels have had a major impact on overall aesthetics in the past. But because Tesla’s roofing system looks just like regular shingles, which are available in several different styles, they’re hoping to make solar power more appealing across the board.
In addition to simply looking more attractive, Musk has said in the past that their solar tiles will actually be more resilient than the materials they’re designed to imitate. Since the Tesla tiles are made with quartz glass, they can withstand a much bigger impact than slate, clay, or terra-cotta. So not only can consumers potentially save money on electricity, but they may not have to spend as much on roofing repairs.
That being said, going green in this manner won’t come cheap. Tesla is currently accepting $1,000 deposits on their website that will go toward removing an existing roof and installing the tiles and storage battery. But that deposit barely makes a dent in the overall cost.
Tesla has an online tool consumers can use to estimate both the cost of the roof and their potential savings. A two-story Raleigh home of 2,467 square feet — which is the median size of a new, single-family home here in the U.S. — would cost $46,400 to replace upfront with the Tesla system. And while a federal tax credit will shave $14,000 off that price, the battery Tesla provides for storage would add $7,000 back on.
The good news is that with Tesla’s roofing system, that home would generate $38,100 worth of energy over a 30 year span. Lighting alone counts for 11% of energy use in residential buildings, with heating and cooling taking up a significant chunk. In the end, that fictitious home owner would end up paying $1,400; in other markets, a homeowner could actually make money off of it.
Still, many homeowners may find that while the system may be eco-friendly, it’s not as friendly to their budget. Even though the Tesla tiles are actually priced below what experts anticipated, a traditional solar panel system costs about 30% less. And while some may be willing to pay more for looks, that’s not always an option for every family.
Homeowners need to keep in mind that going green doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of green. Adding a programmable thermostat, creating a compost pile, and purchasing reusable products are all affordable adjustments that won’t cramp your style or break your budget. Local power companies may also offer green power options for those who aren’t ready to rely solely on solar.
The important thing is that renewable power sources are becoming more visible — and for many, more viable — than ever before. And although it may not be affordable for every family, at least the issue is finally getting some much-needed attention.