Switching to Solar at Home: What You Need to Know
If you’re thinking about switching to solar at home to cut down on monthly energy costs, there are a few factors you need to consider first. Solar power can save you between 30 to 50 percent on energy costs, but done without the right information, you may wind up spending more than you expect. American Solar Direct, a U.S. full-service solar provider offered up these nine tips just in time for the home reno season.
1. Lease Versus Own. On average home-solar installation can cost $25,000 or more. An easier option is to go with a licensed contractor who will install the system under a lease financing plan for little or no money at the outset. It’s a much more affordable alternative for switching to solar at home, especially as you’ll have money to pay because you’ll be paying much lower electricity bills.
2. Net Metering. When your rooftop solar system produces more energy than you need to power your home, the excess is supplied to the local electric utility. You’ll enjoy some of the greatest monthly cost reductions when your rooftop solar panels are giving energy back into the system. Make sure your solar panels or systems are properly installed for the most efficient energy production.
3. Rebates. Rebates can significantly lower the cost of switching to solar at home. Even if you have a leased system (in which case the rebate goes to the solar company), you can still save. The rebate allows the installer to lower your overall cost and lease payments. Rebates vary by region so do some digging; you can start by asking the company you’re considering to install your system.
4. In-house Service vs. Outsourcing. It’s best if the solar company that installs your system has their own staff or employees – from customer service representatives to installers to provide everything you need from financing to ongoing maintenance. If the company outsources these services to a third party, continuum of care may not be guaranteed.
5. Home Values. Several current studies show that a home’s value increases when it contains the best available energy efficiency devices. Why? Because the operating cost of your home decreases when it uses less water, gas and electricity. This is one of the main reasons rooftop solar is becoming a standard feature on new homes and why owners of older homes are installing solar systems.
6. What If I move? Because switching to solar boosts your home’s value, you don’t have to worry. According to American Solar Direct, studies show an increasing number of home buyers want residences with multiple green features such as solar systems. If your system is still under lease, you can choose to assign your lease to the new buyer; just make sure you do a credit check first.
7. Remain Energy Efficient. Just because you have solar panels on your roof, it doesn’t mean you can crank up the air conditioning, keep the lights on all day or waste energy in other ways. Some of the power for your home will still come from an electric utility company. Being energy efficient will ensure that you pay the least amount of money for power after switching to solar at home.
8. Appearance. Make sure you check out any laws or ordinances regarding installing solar systems in your home. Knowing your rights will help you make the best decision. For instance, California law prohibits homeowner associations, municipalities and other organizations from enforcing rules that prevent homeowners from installing rooftop solar. If you’re worried about annoying your neighbours, ask your installer to create a custom design so that the solar panel “array” blends into the roof as much as possible.
9. New Technologies. As solar gains in popularity, companies are developing new technologies and cell designs to increase the rate at which solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. However, these more advanced solar panels are too expensive for most homeowners. So rest assured that the solar panels you buy today should be very efficient for 20 to 30 years. You can visit AmericanSolarDirect.com for more information on switching to solar at home.
A Final Word about Switching to Solar at Home
Producing electricity from your own rooftop is becoming easier and more affordable, notes Ravi Thuraisingham, ASD’s president and chief financial officer. “The trends we saw in 2011 – primarily, that home solar was truly entering the mainstream market – should continue at a strong pace this year. Thousands of homeowners will continue to seek ways to cut electric bills and have a positive impact on the environment.”
Finally, if you’re building a new home, we recommend considering combining solar energy with straw bale innovation to lower energy costs even more.
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