Calculating your monthly utility bill can be one of life’s biggest hassles.
Rates often change without notice. Each season brings a new set of variables and new strains on your power supply and wallet. When a new power plant is built nearby, your rates often temporarily go up.
Is there any way you can get control of your utility costs (and wallet) back? Fortunately, there are many alternative, green, completely renewable energy sources that you can rent or purchase on your own. These green sources are far less expensive over time than what is offered by traditional utility companies. And the most efficient and unobtrusive of these is solar power.
If it seems that converting your house to a solar home may be a smart choice, read on! The solar power tips below will show you the advantages.
What Are the Biggest Benefits of Having a Solar Electric Home?
Solar panels uses are numerous and among the most diverse in alternative energy. First, the energy generated is entirely green, which helps reduce your home’s carbon footprint. This helps to reduce hazardous waste from natural gas and other conventional electric utilities. Your solar electric home thereby helps protect both your community and the planet.
Another great benefit is the amount of savings versus the cost of installation. For example, an estimate from solareviews.com for central Indiana (46038 zip code) shows that solar electric modules (with an electrical gradient of merely 17.41 kilowatts) will save you $50,639 in the first 25 years of use. In less than half that time, the solar electric modules will have paid for themselves!
The average monthly cost of traditional utilities in the same part of the country is 21 cents per kilowatt. With solar power, that average dips by 62% to 8 cents per month. That means you could save up to $575.19 per month.
But these are only two of the many more benefits of going solar.
What Is the Initial Cost of Conversion to Solar?
On the front end, investing in solar (whether you are buying modules or opting for solar panel leases) may seem prohibitively expensive. However, there are many incentives that make solar financing, electric modules affordable for the vast majority of homeowners. These include tax breaks, leasing options, and increased property value.
The first thing you will need to do is use an online solar rooftop calculator. You can easily find one by going to sites like energysage.com and solareviews.com. Neither of these sites is linked to a particular solar company, so you can expect a fair, accurate estimate.
Next, you should look into the tax breaks that are available in your state and municipality. There is also a guaranteed ITC (Investment Tax Credit) from the federal government, which allows to deduct 30% of the cost of your solar electric modules, when they are installed before the end of 2019. (After that, the deduction drops to 26% until the end of 2020, and 22, until the end of 2021, so it is best to act quickly!)
For homeowners with reasonably good credit, there are several financing options which will help you decide whether to buy or lease your solar units (more on that below). For those with excellent credit, there are many zero-down loans. Keep in mind that any solar power loan is subject to the same policies as other home improvement loans. The rule of thumb is to make sure the energy savings you incur are greater than your monthly loan payment. This will allow you to pay off the loan without any penalties and start saving money as soon as possible.
To check tax credit on solar deductions in your state, check with your state’s Office of Energy Development, or use the solar rooftop calculator listed above. For your city, town, village, or municipality of residence, check tax credit with your County Assessor.
Should you choose to sell your solar home, you may notice that the property value has gone up. This is because solar power is considered a desirable home improvement, especially for potential homeowners wishing to save. If you have been careful in your calculations and have taken advantage of the available tax breaks and financial options, you will find solar energy will save you money from installation to home sale.
The consensus of most independent energy consultants is that, if you can afford to pay your monthly utility bill, you can afford to switch to solar power.
To Buy or to Lease?
Leasing and buying both have their advantages, determined in part by your solar panel uses. If the installation will take place at your primary residence, it may be best to buy. Buying allows you to keep the financial benefits such as tax breaks and higher home market value. However, if you want solar panels at a second property, such as a vacation home or business, leasing may be the better option. The question really comes down to one issue: the reason for your solar panels uses.
If you choose to buy your solar panel system, you obviously own the product. That means all of the tax credits are yours. However, after the warranty on the equipment runs out, you are also financially responsible for any maintenance and repairs, from heavy snow removal to part replacement. If you are buying, be sure to look for the highest rated equipment with an extended warranty. You may even want to purchase insurance specifically for your solar network.
Solar panel leases are the stronger option if you are less interested in the financials and more interested in “going green.” Many businesses and high-profile community members value the reputation that comes with reducing their carbon footprints. They also have the satisfaction of contributing to a better environment. As with buying, it is still important to do your research and find the best rated solar products before leasing.
One disadvantage to leasing is that the lessor gets any tax breaks and monetary incentives. However, as the lessee, you are not responsible for the cost of maintenance and parts replacement. Finally, in addition to leasing, there is something called a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). With this option, you or your business agree to pay for the energy generated, while the developers are financially responsible for all designs, estimates, and installation.
One Final Benefit: Net Metering Solar Energy
Net metering solar energy has one additional advantage if you are “on grid” (that is, connected to the local utility power grid). If you happen to produce more kilowatts than you can use during any given month, most states mandate that your local utility company buy the remaining energy. Therefore, you will be saving money as well as making money.
Another advantage of connecting to a utility power grid is that the power you generate is available at any time. This helps reduce home power fluctuations, brownouts, and blackouts that may occur if you try to store the excess energy yourself.
There are distinct benefits and financial ramifications to be considered if you want to buy or lease solar panels. Hopefully, the solar power tips above have answered most of your questions. If you need more information, you should look into the many resource the federal government has to offer, including the Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide Book. With the above information, links, and the Homeowner’s Guide Book at your fingertips, you can begin saving on energy in just a few months.