When solar panels first arrived on the market every homeowner was excited to save money. That is, until they looked into and saw the price for instillation and the cost of the panels.
That was about ten years ago. Fast forward to today and check the prices. The instillation price has dropped, the panels have gotten better and are less costly upfront. Also, there are tons of incentives and rebates for installing solar.
I was doing some googling when I started research for this article and I came across a solar savings estimator. I searched for solar panels in Georgia and the first hit was a Google-sponsored map that shows an aerial view of my home. This view also shows a thermal image of my roof and which parts of the roof get the most sun (I have a lot of trees). Then, it broke down the estimated savings. I would save a total of $54 a month for electrical. I would highly recommend doing this search for your area and entering your address, if for nothing else than the heat map of your roof. (pretty awesome)
If it is so great and so cheap why is everyone not using it?
Great question. The answer varies depending on your location.
Let’s look at neighborhoods first. Most neighborhoods have covenants written into the HOA agreement that prohibit the use of solar. They call it aesthetics. I understand their issue with the panels, I really do. I just don’t like it. I’m sure the first person to wear a pair of high heels was regarded as an outcast. Now, high heels are widely accepted even though they are terribly uncomfortable. (I am assuming this because I hear a lot of women complain about them) What I am trying to say is if the entire neighborhood goes solar everyone can be uncomfortable together.
Next, we will look at the fear of the cost as the second reason. This fear should be laid to rest. The price of solar has dropped and has been dropping for a few years now. If you factor in this drop in price and the added bonus of getting a federal tax credit (30% of the price of install and as a reminder a credit comes directly off your total taxes) you would more than come out on the positive side. Most people will need to finance the addition of the solar panels but if you are lucky like me, your bill will also be negative.
If you are wondering how the utility bill is negative, I will share some insight. During the day when no one is home, the panels are creating energy and then you are selling this energy to the power company and they are adding it into the grid. At night, when there is no sun, you will be using power from the electrical company. The goal here is to make sure you are making more during the day than you are using during the night. You could also use a storage device (a solar battery) to cut the cost of power during the evening. Just be aware the batteries can be expensive.
Take the next few minutes to do a quick google search for your area. Maybe, call a few companies and get a quote. Just to see if it is within your budget. Also, reach out to the head of your HOA and see if this would be allowed in your neighborhood. (Do this after you have done your research so you can come to the conversation prepared with some quotes and facts)
The most important fact you need to know right now is about the tax credit for the price of installation. At the end of this year (2016) the tax credit will come off the books because the prices have fallen so drastically the government feels they do no need to subsidize the instillation anymore.