Adding an Electric Car Cut the Payback Point of Our Solar Panel Investment in Half

A Chevrolet Volt electric car being charged in a parking lot Photograph by Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images

When we discussed our home solar panel project in mid-2011 with friends, one of the first questions everyone asked was, “What’s the payback period before you break even?” The second question, unsurprisingly, was, “How much is it costing you?” but the focus always ended up on the payback. After all, if you’re going to invest in green technology, you’re hoping that at some point in the near future, you get ahead of the game. It turns out that something we didn’t plan for—our Chevrolet Volt—is actually helping us boost the return on investment and cut our payback time in half.

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