The Risks and Rewards of Having Too Much Sun

Living elevated in Salt Lake City or any part of Utah comes with a big dose of sunlight. The outdoor culture and the elevation ensure you’ll get plenty of sunlight. However, though having a lot of sunlight has benefits, too much of it can literally kill you.

The Sun is Out to Get You

Utah has almost double the cases of skin cancer per capita compared to the rest of the nation. While the predominantly white populace and the Utahn outdoor culture is partly to blame, a bigger factor that increases the risk of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Harmful UV rays from the sun are the leading cause of all skin cancers and Utah’s elevation exposes it to plenty of UV. UV concentrations shoot up by 7 percent for every 1,000 feet of elevation. Most of the state stands at over 4,000 feet of elevation, making UV concentrations go up by 28 percent or more. The average number of skin cancer cases in the US (per capita) is 21; this number is doubled in Utah at 42. Park City residents have it worse as their elevation exposes them to almost 50 percent more UV, raising the number of skin cancer cases in the city at 77 out of every 100,000 people.

Sun Protection Means More than Just Sunscreen

Window Shutters

Sunscreen provides good protection from the sun, but the high concentrations of UV require tougher and more permanent solutions. UV filtering film on residential windows is crucial in preventing UV exposure at home. Shutters and blinds are also viable options. However, UV films are more efficient and require no additional work once applied. Take your car to the shop and have them apply UV filtering film in your car’s windows. People feel safe when inside their homes or vehicles, not knowing that the few minutes of sun exposure can be enough to accumulate significant damage and raise their risk of developing skin cancer.

More Sun = Free Electricity

Solar Panels

There is an upside to all that sun: free electricity. Elon Musk singled out Utah and Nevada as the two states that can provide enough power to the whole nation by harnessing the solar power. While powering the whole nation might be too big of an undertaking, getting solar panels on your own roof is particularly easy. A solar power system that can provide enough electricity to power your house (around 3-kW) will cost less than $8,000 after applying federal and local incentives. With five-year financing, at the average rate of 4.5 percent for solar loans, you’ll be paying less than $150 a month. With 10-year financing, you’ll be paying around $80 a month, or around the cost of your savings on your electric bill — which makes your solar panels virtually free. After five years or 10 years, you get to enjoy free electricity for another 15-25 years.

Tint those windows and get those solar panels on your roof. The savings you got on electricity might just come in handy, especially if you need to remove a couple of melanomas.