Once seen as a pricey alternative for only the most committed environmentalists, rooftop solar electric systems have quickly gained popularity among value-conscious home owners.
Today, 1.3 million homes and businesses have solar systems, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, and in 2016, solar was the top source new electric generating capacity in the United States.
The cost of solar panel systems has decreased dramatically — more than 60% in a decade. Federal and state incentives, along with Energy-Efficient Mortgages (EEMs) — which factor in lower energy costs when calculating how much a buyer qualifies to borrow — have helped home owners see the value of investing in this renewable technology.
As more and more home buyers are looking for both new and existing homes that offer solar power systems, home appraisers are incorporating the value of a home’s green features – including solar power systems – into their appraisals.
That means that installing solar panels now will not only help you save on your electric bill, it may make your home more valuable when you are ready to sell.
And, if you don’t like the look of traditional solar arrays, you can now buy solar-powered rooftop shingles that blend seamlessly into your existing roof.
If you’re considering installing solar panels on your home, here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Calculate how much energy your household uses now – and will use in the future.
Before installing solar panels, you need to know your household’s energy usage now and figure out how that will change in the future. A young family can expect their usage to increase as the family grows, while families with older children may see their consumption decrease as their kids leave home. Talk to your solar installer about these changes so that they can determine the system that’s right for you.
• You will still receive a bill from your power company.
Although your solar panels produce energy for your house, you are still using the electric grid for some of your electricity and will receive a monthly electric bill. Check with your local power company to learn how they will calculate your bill. Some electric companies allow solar customers to sell any unused excess solar power to the grid for a credit on their monthly bill.
• Check out the incentives.
A database of solar energy incentives such as tax credits and grant programs is available at www.dsireusa.org. Just search your Zip Code to see a list of incentives that may make rooftop solar even more affordable.
• Protect your solar power investment.
Before your solar panels are installed, learn about the different types of warranty coverage offered by both the panel manufacturer and the panel installer. Manufacturers typically offer 20- or 25-year warranties, while solar installers offer shorter warranties for their work. It’s important to understand who is responsible for the various components of the system.
After the system is installed, you’ll want to protect this major home investment, too. Talk to your home insurance provider about adjusting your property insurance to ensure the panels are covered from any damage caused by fire, storms, etc.