- Installing home solar panels can cut your electric bill and shrink your carbon footprint. But the upfront costs of buying and installing a system can be considerable, even with government rebates. the cost and return from adding solar panels, and whether the home’s roof is positioned to benefit from them, are some key factors to examine before making the move.
- Those who have a section of roof that faces south with few obstructions, such as tall buildings or trees will benefit the most from installing solar panels. Once the estimate for how big of a system is needed, an online calculator can be used at to help determine costs and how long it will take to make back the investment. The calculator takes into consideration equipment costs, loan interest rates, tax savings and more. One example of a calculator is http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/renewables/estimator.
- Government programs can provide significant financial breaks on the system, but these offers frequently change. The http://www.dsireusa.org site has information on what’s currently available in the area. Homeowners also should check with their local utility company.
- An average home solar-panel installation can cost $20,000 or more, even after incentives, according to the Department of Energy. An alternative is to have a leasing company, such as SolarCity, install the system at no cost to the homeowner, and bill for the system monthly. In many cases, the electricity cost will be lower, but the system won’t be owned.
- Rebates and other incentives are generally available only if the homeowner uses a licensed contractor or does the job themselves. When hiring a contractor, ensure his or her state license is
valid by doing an “instant license check” at http://www.cslb.ca.gov.
From C.A.R. Market Matters
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