Have you ever considered installing solar panels so that you can tap on the mighty sun's rays to power your home all while being environmentally friendly? There aren't a lot of downsides to supplying your home with renewable energy solar panels, though.
But before you get a sticker shock, remember that solar panels can eliminate or reduce your monthly electricity bills if you look at things from a longer term perspective.
Here, we at GET.com list and explain the pros and cons of installing solar panels.
Cost Of Equipment And Installation
The average upfront cost of a solar panel installation is about $20,000 according to reports submitted by homeowners to HomeAdvisor. That figure excludes the 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit, which offers a deduction on your federal taxes to help cover the cost of your equipment and installation. A 30% tax credit on a $20,000 solar installation would reduce the taxes you owe Uncle Sam by $6,000.
Even if you're not expecting to pay that much in federal taxes, there are other ways you can reduce the cost of a solar panel installation. Many states and local jurisdictions offer rebates and tax credits as an incentive for more homeowners to go solar.
If cost is an obstacle, there are many solar installation companies that offer a "solar lease" where you'll only pay for the energy generated, and not the equipment nor the cost of installation. Keep in mind that solar energy is not always cheaper than grid energy.
Solar energy costs significantly less than grid energy in the Southwest and Northeast currently, but you'll have to get a quote and compare the cost per kilowatt-hour of energy to confirm that a solar lease will truly help you save money.
Here are 3 ways you can cut your energy bills in half. Check out these 9 nifty solar power gadgets that can help you save money, too.
Potential Of Increasing The Value Of Your Home
You could spend $30,000 installing a state-of-the-art gym, a small guesthouse in your backyard, an Olympic-size swimming pool or redoing your kitchen, but none of those is guaranteed to give you a return on your investment when it's time to sell your home.
You can spend $30,000 on something that may or may not interest prospective buyers. Arguably, a solar panel installation is one of the few additions to a home that appeals to a wide range of potential homebuyers and is therefore guaranteed to increase the value of your home.
Selling Electricity Back To The Grid
The Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA, yuck, pick a better acronym next time) says that utility companies must purchase any excess electricity that renewable energy systems like solar panels and wind turbines generate.
How do you keep track of how much electricity you're generating for the public energy grid? Net metering.
If you generate more electricity than you consume in a month, the utility company pays you the retail value of the energy you've created. If you consume more electricity than you generate, you owe the utility company the retail value of the amount of energy you've used.
Go to Energy.gov/Savings, select your state, and search "net metering" to find out how your state and local utility companies pay you for the electricity your solar panels generate. In some cases, they'll send you a check. In others, your account will be credited for the amount of electricity you generate.