Could your nonprofit benefit from a little more padding in your bank account?
From increased operating expenses to fewer donations, nonprofits around the country are constantly looking for ways to earn extra funding for their much-needed programs while cutting the costs of doing business.
Because even though nonprofits continually reinvest their earnings to their various programs, they still have to fork over the cash to pay for traditional for-profit business expenses like payroll, rent, and utilities.
While you may not be able to control many of these expenses, you can take control of your nonprofit’s electricity bills by switching to solar energy.
You may be wondering if it’s really a smart idea to have your nonprofit spend money to install solar panels on your property. You may also be worrying that investment will only drain the coffers and not make your donors happy.
To give you all the information you and your board members need to make an informed decision about switching to solar, today we’re going to talk about all the reasons solar energy is perfect for nonprofits.
How does solar energy slash your electric bills? Grab our free guide to learn all about how your nonprofit will start saving money from day one!
How Much of Your Nonprofit’s Budget Goes to Keeping the Lights and the AC On?
Nonprofits have employee expenses (like payroll), flexible expenses (expenses that change every month), program expenses (how much it costs to distribute your services), and fixed expenses.
Your nonprofit’s fixed expenses include paying down your property’s mortgage (or rent), leasing your company cars, and your monthly utility bills.
Everything from churches, mosques, and synagogues to donation centers, homeless shelters, and animal rescues face these monthly financial obligations. And there’s usually not much you can do about them.
While your other expenses can be budgeted for, your electricity bills are often high and unpredictable. How many times have they wreaked havoc on your super tight budget?
[bctt tweet=”Electricity bills are high and unpredictable for most nonprofits to budget for. Solar fixes that.” username=”1stLightSolar”]
There’s even worse news: Your energy costs will keep rising.
Electricity Costs Keep Rising (and show no signs of stopping)
Utility rates have been increasing an average of 3% every year thanks to the costs of traditional energy constantly increasing.
If you think your utility company has been overcharging your nonprofit, that wouldn’t be the first time. Not only are you too busy to read those complicated bills, you need a key just to understand all the layers of charges and usage fees you have to pay.
While there are several reasons your electricity bills are so high, the biggest one that’s out of your control is the rate your utility or power company charges for electricity.
Besides being completely different state-by-state, the EIA says there are several factors affecting the price of electricity, such as:
- The cost of generating fuels like coal, natural gas, etc.
- Business operating expenses of the utility companies, such as paying their employees, advertising and marketing costs, etc.
- Costs to distribute electricity via power lines and grids, and maintaining them.
- Extreme weather conditions and seasonal changes, which create spikes in demand for electricity and raises rates for everyone. Natural disasters can also damage infrastructure and the expense of the repairs gets passed on to customers.
- Complying with government regulations can be costly even though they’re designed to protect our environment.
Though all these expenses make their way to your monthly bill, the largest expense, by far, is the cost of acquiring and generating the fuel we use for that electricity.
So what if you didn’t have to pay for that expense anymore?
Solar energy, or generating electricity from the sun, is totally free.
How Does Solar Energy Actually Work?
Solar panels house groups of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which turn the sun’s UV rays directly into electricity. Several panels together are called a solar array.
The electricity your solar panels generate is DC, not the AC electricity needed by all the energy-consumers at your nonprofit, like computers, printers, and heating or air conditioning.
So you’ll install an inverter to convert the DC electricity into usable AC electricity.
Your solar-generated electricity will flow to your electrical box and then straight into your office, building, warehouse, etc.
Powering your devices and everything else will work exactly the same — flip on a switch or plug something in and no one will ever never know the difference.
How Does Switching to Solar Energy Save Money?
You know how your building has an electric meter to show the utility company how much energy you’ve consumed during the month (and how much to charge you)?
When your nonprofit switches to solar, you’ll have an electric meter that works both ways.
See, your solar panels will be generating electricity whenever the sun’s out — so from sunrise to sunset, you’ll be producing power. However, your nonprofit probably won’t use all the power your solar panels create.
So your excess solar-created energy will get fed back to the power grid for the utility company to share with your neighbors.
— Todd Snyder (@digyoursoul) October 10, 2017
This energy doesn’t come free.
When you stay connected to the power grid, you’ll still have power even when your solar panels can’t produce electricity (such as at night or during inclement weather).
Your utility company will credit your account for the solar energy you contribute to the grid.
And when you receive your monthly bill, you’ll have charges for how much energy you consume when your solar panels aren’t working, minus the credits from your solar-generated energy.
The process is known as net metering, because you only pay for the net amount of what you generate and what you use.
Why Do Businesses and Nonprofits Benefit the Most from Switching to Solar Energy?
Installing solar panels at home is a smart investment, but it’s much easier to save money as a business or nonprofit with solar energy.
Solar panels only work when the sun’s out. Your solar panels won’t be able to generate electricity when it’s nighttime or super overcast, stormy, cloudy, or foggy.
While homeowners will need to rely on power from their utility company in the evening, business owners and nonprofits are usually out the door before sundown.
That means nonprofits only need to rely on the utility company when the sun’s hiding during the day or when their teams are burning the midnight oil. This will cut your utility bill by leaps and bounds.
And that’s just one reason why every nonprofit needs to seriously consider switching to solar energy. Let’s talk about the other three.
3 Reasons Why Your Nonprofit Needs to Switch to Solar Energy Today
Your board of directors and upper management may not understand why you want to invest in solar energy for what may appear like minimal savings (they’re not). They may not know all the signs it’s time to switch your business or nonprofit to solar energy.
So it’s up to you to let them know how solar energy will help your nonprofit:
1. Lower Your Operating Expenses by Decreasing Your Energy Costs
How much is your monthly electricity bill?
Depending on the type of building you manage, how tall the structures are (cathedral ceilings anyone?), and how many buildings you’re responsible for heating, your monthly electric bill could be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
As we mentioned earlier, the more energy your solar panels create, the more you’ll be scoring in credits from the utility company.
If your team follows these best money-saving hacks to lower your electricity bill, you may not consume as much energy as you generate.
[bctt tweet=”Switching to solar energy could offset your electric bill by 70–90%.” username=”1stLightSolar”]
That means if your bill is just $100, to use easy numbers, you could be saving $70–$90 every month and $840–$1,000+ every year.
Think about all the good you could do with those solar savings.
Even if you don’t fully own your solar array (more on this later), the energy rate you lock in with a trusted solar energy provider will be lower and guaranteed not to increase, unlike the energy you’re buying from the utility company.
2. Enhance Your Nonprofit’s Image and Attract More Donors
Solar energy panels show your community that you’re committed to making your environment and your nonprofit a better place. Everyone loves them.
Besides the cool appeal, solar panels show donors that you’re using technology to reduce your expenses while protecting the environment, creating green jobs for the community, and being mindful with your donors’ contributions.
Who wouldn’t want to contribute to such a savvy cause?
3. Qualify for Renewable Energy Tax Credits to Lower the Price of Installation
Your nonprofit may qualify for special incentives and tax rebates to make switching to solar energy more affordable when you don’t have any wiggle room in your budget, such as:
- Rebate offers
- Utility-specific incentives
- Solar grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
- Renewable energy programs
- Local and federal tax incentives like the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC)
Combine a few of these offers and you could slash the price of your installation and start earning solar savings immediately. But what if you don’t have that kind of cash sitting around?
How to Finance the Switch to Solar Energy for Your Nonprofit
Most nonprofits are financially sound, but decision makers have to jump through lots of red tape just to get an approval to use funds. This often delays necessary projects, even if they’re going to save you money now and in the future.
If your nonprofit doesn’t have the upfront cash to back a solar installation, have no fear.
Solar Leasing and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs): A Nonprofit’s Best Ally in Switching to Solar Energy
Solar leasing and PPAs have become an attractive option for nonprofits who cannot afford the upfront price of installing solar panels on their property, but still want the solar savings.
Your business or nonprofit will sign a long-term contract with a solar energy provider like 1st Light Energy and/or an investment or financial backer.
They’ll assess your property for solar panels and then design and purchase the solar system.
They will assume all the upfront costs, handle all the permitting, and take on the financial risks.
Your solar panels will be installed on your nonprofit’s property and connected to the power grid for little or no money down. And you’ll start generating power (and credits) immediately.
Since your solar provider owns your solar panels, they’ll be selling your nonprofit the power generated on your property — but at a discounted rate that’s better than what you’re paying the utility company now.
Your solar provider also assumes all the monitoring responsibilities so you don’t have to add those duties to one of your already-underpaid employees.
A solar lease guarantees a low, fixed electric rate for 15–20 years to make your nonprofit’s budgeting easier for a long time to come.
Let 1st Light Energy Help Your Nonprofit Succeed with Solar Energy Today
Don’t fall victim to the biggest excuses people make to delay switching to solar energy. Now that you know exactly why solar energy is going to save your nonprofit tons of money every month and year, it’s up to you to make it happen.
Learn what to look for in a solar energy company so you work with someone who isn’t scared of the confines of a nonprofit’s budget.
We’ve worked on residential and commercial projects of all shapes and sizes here at 1st Light Energy. Over the past twelve years and over 300 commercial electric solar systems later, we definitely have the experience required to take on your nonprofit’s solar needs.
No matter the size of your facility, the nature of your nonprofit, or the location — let us help you find the significant benefits gained by choosing a solar system from 1st Light Energy.
Want to learn more about the money-saving benefits of solar energy? Grab our free guide about solar energy’s utility bill-slashing superpowers now!
Nonprofits have an important role in social change; check out and share this infographic about all the perceived strengths and weaknesses (i.e., high overhead costs!) of the world’s nonprofits now: