News & Opinion | March 17, 2017 9:00 am

Google’s New Toy Tells You Exactly How Much Money a Solar Roof Would Save You

Find your house. Click. Weep that you haven't switched yet.

Did you see Lion? No? It’s about an orphan who tracks down his family using Google Earth.

Takeaways: Pretty cool. Very heartwarming. Google Earth rocks.

But the do-goodery of the interactive mapping service isn’t limited to the world of film — an initiative formally launched this week could have very real economic and environmental impacts IRL.

In 2015, Google launched Project Sunroof, a solar-energy calculator that uses data from Earth and Maps to help individuals assess the amount of solar energy their home or office could generate. It also calculates how much money you’d potentially save doing this over the course of 20 years. For instance, the 612 square feet of solar-ready space on my roof would generate 1,944 hours per year, for a savings of $6,000. Because I live in Los Angeles, there are options for various providers, and Google shows me their current rates to help me shop wisely. Pretty sweet.

Naturally, Google can also perform some deep data dives with this information, a glimpse of which it revealed in a recent blog post.

Of note:

  • Houston has the most potential as a city: it could generate some 18,940gWh of electricity
  • The top 10 cities in America could generate enough power for eight million homes
  • 79 percent of all the rooftops analyzed across the country can generate power

Remind me why we are still talking about coal?