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A Healthy Graph, Spending on Daily Lattes vs. Solar Energy Costs and Savings

Avatar for Dave Llorens
Published on 06/20/2009 in
Updated 02/28/2018


Even in this dicey economy, the rule of marketing put forth by Seth Godin in his simple but important book, Purple Cow, holds as true as ever: Be Remarkable. Though pocketbooks across the country are tightening, people still ache for stories they can tell their friends, new experiences full of memories that are easy, even fun to spread.

Take this example: I love sushi. A lot. There’s something about the freshness of the fish, the warm texture of the sticky rice, how well the ginger pairs with salmon, and the feeling as though you are partaking in a cultural ritual centuries old, yet as thriving as ever.

Two small sticks, fresh fish, rice, and soy sauce. Awesome.

As it turns out, I’m not alone in my love of sushi… especially in Portland. There are dozens of sushi restaurants here. However, some flounder even though they don’t serve that type of fish, whereas others are talked about from here to the other side of town. Why?

The good ones are remarkable.

One restaurant I like quite a bit for lunch is called SushiLand. This is your typical sushi track type of place, lots of variety, fresh fish, and very reasonable prices. You can have 8-10 plates of excellent rolls and nigiri for about $14.

My favorite plate there is called the “Ricky Special”. It is full of value and flavor and… it isn’t on the menu. Maybe I’m a food nerd, but I get some kicks out of telling friends about a super secret roll most don’t even know exists. It feels like you’re part of a very small SushiLand subculture when ordering it. It is 4 pieces of avocado filled maki, topped with chunked maguro tuna and salmon, fish roe, and spicy mayo. All that for TWO dollars. People are floored every time I introduce them to it.

This story is going somewhere. Honestly. Here’s the SushiLand salmon nigiri:

sushiland salmon

At $1.50, many consider this to be a bargain. Now, put together two of these plates, side by side and you have quite a satisfying spread of salmon, right? $3.00?

Now, check out the salmon nigiri at my other favorite sushi restaurant, Saburo Sushi in Sellwood:

saburo salmon

These are serious hunks of fish, you’ve never seen sushi this chunky and large. The last time I was there, the guy next to us actually whipped out some tool that looked like the , smiled at us, and said, “What? You need this thing to cut through the big hunks of fish here”. He’s right. This for sure is two or three bite nigiri. If you try putting this down your throat in one gulp you’re gonna wind up choking.

This nigiri, a similar amount of fish as two plates at SushiLand, or any other sushi place, checks in at $3.75. However, people cannot stop talking about this place and their sushi. Since I’ve moved to Portland 4 years ago, there’s been a constant line around the building from the time the place opens right up to the time they need to close. Every night, Saburo needs to turn people away at the door, sometimes a full hour before they are scheduled to close. Again, same price for the same amount of fish, but it is simply presented in a remarkable way.

What does this have to do with solar you might ask? Well I’m thinking of new ways to present the value proposition of solar in a way people want to share with their friends. About 2 years ago, I created this ridiculous graph of spending on the Iraq war compared to the amount of dollars our government was investing in solar energy research and development. The figures were so wonderfully misaligned, and presented in a similarly unique way, people were compelled to share it with their friends. Nobody had ever seen a graph this large or striking. It was like the Saburo Sushi of bar graphs.

People talked about it from Portland clear across the country, even other parts of the globe were chattering about it. We actually got trackbacks to the site in Korean, Russian, and Chinese. I still don’t know what they were saying specifically about it, but this experience taught me quickly how important the power of being remarkable really is firsthand.

So, I am now working a Costco event for REC Solar, chatting to people about solar and doing my best to convince them why solar makes so much sense here. Verbally, it’s difficult when people just hear the large upfront cost. But, I’m beginning to feel as though if I had a really ridiculously giant bar graph here. You know, one that went maybe 50 feet up in the air which said, this is the amount of dollars you will be going to save by installing solar over the next 25 years at the top. Next to it, I’d have two smaller similarly sized bars that are the total cost of the system after incentives, and maybe the amount of money they spend over 5 years on lattes. Basically, the cost of solar would equal a bunch of lattes, but instead of getting fat, you’d get to save like $20,000.

I think if I had this by my side today, I might have a little more luck:


The above figures are accurate in Oregon. They assume a latte costs $3.75, your solar system is $7.75/watt installed, you install a 3kw system, being able to take advantage of the state’s $6,000 residential energy tax credit, the 30% Federal tax credit, and the Energy Trust of Oregon’s $2.25/watt cash rebate. The panels are warrantied to be producing electricity at 80% of their original capacity at year 25 and you pay off your system in year 8. Heck, even if you move after 5 years, your property value will increase by slightly over $7,000 by going solar so you’re already in the black when you sell your house. The cost of solar in Oregon after 5 years pales in comparison to buying a latte every day for 5 years.

To see how much you could save by installing solar in your state, simply get free quotes from us! For goodness sakes, they are free, easy, and you’re not obligated to buy anything and you won’t get spammed. Go ahead already, our friends nationwide are waiting to hear from you!

Last modified: February 28, 2018

2 thoughts on “A Healthy Graph, Spending on Daily Lattes vs. Solar Energy Costs and Savings

  1. Avatar for SolarFred SolarFred says:

    Entertaining post, Dan! I was worried for a second about where you were going, but that lo-o-ong graph is a great payoff! Love the starbucks analogy too.

    1. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:

      Thanks Solar Fred! Yeah, I did get a little distracted there with the sushi, food just happens to be another one of my passions.


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