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Published on December 13th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


If You Won $34,260 In The Lottery, Would You Refuse To Collect It?

Originally published on Cost of Solar.

If we saw a headline about a man or woman winning $34,260 in a lottery and then deciding not to claim it, I think the story would get most of us to click through, read on, and drop our jaw in disbelief as we read about the absurdity of the situation. Why would someone throw away $34,260? Unfortunately, that is essentially the situation with many, many people today (maybe you?)… when it comes to electricity.

For people who went solar in California in 2011, a 2012 study projected the average 20-year savings for that household would be about $34,260. Nonetheless, millions of people with adequate rooftops decided to pass on the opportunity — decided not to go solar. In 2012, many of them passed again. And, with 2013 more than 50% gone, many of them (you?) are passing again. Today, the cost of solar is actually considerably lower than it was back in 2011, meaning that the savings from going solar today would be even larger than they were then.

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Now, you might be inclined to say, “those are the 20-year savings, not the amount of money you could get today.” True. But, nonetheless, if you won a $34,000 lottery with the stipulation that you’d have to wait 20 years before you could collect all the money (that the money would slowly trickle into your bank account… automatically), people would still look at you like you were insane if you said, “OK, so never mind, I don’t want the money.”

California’s $34,260 or so in average savings from going solar are a bit above the nationwide average of just over $20,000. But $20,000 is still nothing to scoff at. In some states, the savings are even much greater than in California. And even in states where it’s lower, it’s above $10,000.

In many, many situations, if you have an adequate roof for solar and you haven’t gone solar yet, you’re missing out. Stop throwing money in the trash (or towards your utility company) and go solar today!

Advantages of solar -- money!

Money! (Photo Credit: Cayusa | CC BY-NC)

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • Edward Kerr Lib notes below winning with solar is a 100% bet. Going forward the ‘winning’ (savings) are likely to expand as prices for electricity will probably go up. The real gamble here is if one doesn’t become electricity self sufficient you really lose if the grid goes down for an extended period. Are you willing to bet that the utilities will always be there?

    Now is also probably the best time to “panel-up” as it were, since there is more and more talk of taxing panels to protect corporate profits. They are seeing a drop as more panels are installed and they don’t like it. In the end the real issue is climate and what we can do about it. As far as I’m concerned corporate profits be damned.

  • A Real Libertarian

    The difference is that winning the lottery is unlikely, while winning at solar is 100% guaranteed.

  • Marion Meads

    Zach, you should improve the title to:

    “If You Won $34,260 In The Lottery, TAX-FREE, Would You Refuse To Collect It?”

    The savings you’re going to get from solar are in fact tax-free!

    • Zachary Shahan

      Haha, i just made that comment before reading yours. :D Maybe I should go ahead and change it — was trying to keep it from getting too long and complicated. Plus, think there’s more curiosity to click if people think it’s about an actual lottery ticket. :D

  • S.Nkm

    haha. Nice article. I keep telling people that installing a PV array on the roof in Colorado is a net (unrealized) profit – and people don’t believe me.

    net cost = PV cost + install cost – many, many incentives – insta-price increase of the house – electricity itself = a negative number.

    • Zachary Shahan

      also worth noting is that it’s tax-free money, since it’s savings. :D

  • Folatt

    In my country you don’t have to pay for lottery prize money. Nor can you can pass up on a lottery ticket for years and then collect an even better one.

    • Kyle Field

      You have to pay for the lottery ticket ;) oh…and as you wait for a “better” ticket, you’re losing years and years worth of money that you “could” have saved. But who am I to persuade…

  • Matt

    Note most lotteries in the US are paid over 20 years. They option to take the whole amount up front results in a much smaller payout.

    • Zachary Shahan

      I thought about that :D

  • tibi stibi

    nice perspective ;)

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