Five Reasons to Install Residential Solar Panels
Install Residential Solar Panels and Save
If you have been considering installing solar panels on your home, now is the time to do so! Sales of solar power systems have been increasing in recent years, as prices continue to fall. I would even go so far as to state that putting solar panels on your roof is like insurance for the future.
But should you go solar? After all, aren't solar panels expensive? Is it worth it to make the investment?
The answers to all three questions are "yes." There are five reasons to install residential solar panels this year: (1) solar electricity is free; (2) solar panels increase the value of your home; (3) you can guard against future utility rate increases; (4) the cost of solar power is reduced by tax incentives and credits; and (5) they offer you the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and live greener.
As a land use/development attorney, I have witnessed the positive impact of solar panels on the price and re-sale value of homes. The bottom line is that in today's economy, with current energy trends and incentives, you can install residential solar panels and save!
1. Solar Electricity is Free
Sunlight is abundant in just about every state, country and region around the world. As ultra-violet light strikes photovoltaic (PV) panels it can be converted into free solar electricity. Over the life of a solar panel system (25-35 years), you can tap into the world's oldest renewable resource. Your investment is merely for the solar panels.
At current solar panel prices, taking into consideration incentives and tax credits, the retail cost of an average home solar power system in the U.S. ranges from $20,000-40,000. After installation, many homeowners see their electricity bills drop by 2/3 or more - some down to zero. Plus, with net metering, homeowners with grid-tied solar power systems can watch their meters turn backward as they get credit for additional solar power generated but not used, which is fed back into the grid.
The return on investment for residential solar panels averages 7-10 years, which means at least 15-25 years during which you are not paying anything for solar electricity!
Lest you are concerned about installing solar panels because you do not live in a sunny region, consider that the leading solar power country in the world is Germany, and one of the top solar power producing states in the U.S. is New Jersey! Solar energy can be generated wherever there is sunlight - whether filtered by clouds, or not.
Installation of Residential Solar Panels
2. Solar Panels Increase the Value of Your Home
When most people calculate the return on investment for residential solar panels, they usually only consider the price and life of the solar power system as it depreciates over time, plus the savings in electricity bills. But another, very important factor is that solar panels increase the value of your home. When you put your home on the market, they also help your house sell faster and for more money than a similarly situated property without solar panels.
The United States EPA reported in the Appraisal Journal that, for every dollar you save in annual utility costs, solar panels increase the value of your home by $20. Simple math calculations show that this can significantly add up. Let's say you save 40% of your monthly electricity bill by going solar - for us, that would be about $80 per month. Over 12 months, that is a saving of $960 which results in an impressive and immediate $19,200 boost in home equity. In other words, you instantly regain nearly 100% of the cost of a solar array in home value. A 2011 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research similarly calculates that installing residential solar panels boosts home prices by 3-4%.
3. Solar Power Helps Guard Against Future Utility Rate Increases
Utility companies frequently raise rates and, with governmental pressure to generate increasing percentages of the power they sell from renewable resources, they seek to recoup investments in the new technology required to do so. While fossil-fuel based electricity remains cheaper than solar power or wind, government mandates cut into utility's profit margins. This means that we can expect more and greater rate hikes.
A solar power system can help guard against utility rate increases, however. When you generate your own electricity, you are less affected by inflation in your power bill. Even if you don't want to purchase your own solar panels, you can enter a solar panel lease or a solar power purchase agreement whereby you buy cheaper solar electricity from the owner of the panels at a fixed rate over the life of the lease or contract. These types of arrangements require no money down, as well. Once again, you can lock in existing rates and guard against future utility rate increases with solar power.
4. Solar Power Costs are Reduced by Incentives and Tax Credits
Currently, homeowners can save even more with residential solar panels through incentives and tax credits. In my home state of Oregon, the price of solar panels can be reduced by up to 80% as of the date of this publication. That takes an average $25,000 solar power array down to $5,600!
Solar power companies and other experts agree that the incentives and credits will not last forever. Several federal tax credits are set to expire the end of 2012, if not renewed. With solar panel prices dropping at precipitous rates (over 50% reduction in the past 24 months), the purpose for continuing incentives is shrinking. So, now is probably one of the best times to invest in solar energy when you can maximize on reduced costs and generous rebates.
See the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiencies for a complete list of solar power incentives across the United States.
The Number of Residential Solar Panel Installations is on the Rise
5. Going Solar Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The vast majority of grid-based electricity comes from burning fossil fuels like coal and gas, which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. That's why you can cut your carbon footprint by reducing electricity consumption. Simply, if we all used less power, demand would be reduced and utility companies would pump out fewer emissions as a result.
For the same reason, going solar reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Relying on renewable energy generated right at your home means you will not be as dependent - if at all - on grid-based power generated at polluting power plants. Even if you do not "believe" in global climate change, solar power is greener and safer than coal for many reasons: (1) no emissions; (2) no dangerous coal mining activities; and (3) no coal ash.
In summary, you can save money and the environment by going solar!
Perhaps you are now convinced that going solar is the right choice for you? Consider a DIY solar panel kit, or work with a professional solar installation company, which can also help you maximize rebates and tax credits.
Installation of Home Solar Panels
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© 2012 Stephanie Hicks
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