Should You Go Solar?

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Solar power is one of those things that rattles around in the back of our minds as a good idea but never makes it to the top of the priority list. I want to help you understand how the solar program works and the financial and environmental reasons people go solar. Here are 7 questions that you might ask as a homeowner.

Is solar right for every homeowner?

You need some square footage to put the solar panels on. Either a roof or a backyard or the roof a really nice neighbor. You need to consider if it is financially beneficial for you to install. You could save up to $200 per month on energy costs but maybe you will only save $20 a month. This depends on a lot of factors. The best way to find out is to schedule an appointment with a company for a solar consultation. It’s easy and free. They come to the house and give you a breakdown of how much you spend on electricity now, how much you will save with solar based on your particular house.

How much will it cost me?

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A solar power system costs $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the size of the system needed to cover your energy needs. This is after the federal tax credit. The government will pay for 30% of the value of solar projects as a tax credit. This tax credit can be claimed on installations only until 2019. The solar investment will save you $100 to $200 monthly on average. So you should recoup your investment in 5 to 10 years.

A solar lease is another option that requires little or no money upfront. You pay the solar company a monthly fee for the power the panels generate. You’ll will save 10% to 20% on electric costs.

You can get a solar loan which means no cash upfront and sometimes it comes with a maintenance contract. Interest rates can range from 3% to 6.5% for 10 to 20 year loans. After factoring in loan payments, you’ll cut your electric bill by 40% to 60%, about $40 to $120 a month, that number assumes you put the tax credit toward your loan. Of course the best benefit to the loan option over the lease option is once it is all paid off you will save even more on your electricity bill.

You can try to make your own. This option is very expensive and time consuming and not recommended. But if you do try, make a video and send it to me.

What if I move?

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Click here for Berkeley University Study

Statistics show that solar installs increase the value of homes and reduce the time on market. In 2014, a survey was done of home buyers and sellers who had participated in a transfer of a solar lease. About 70% of both buyers and sellers said they thought solar panels added to the overall appeal of the home. As long as your solar system is still in good condition, then the solar should make it easier and more profitable to sell the house. This is another good reason to make sure a maintenance plan is included in any purchase or finance option that you choose.

If you lease your system, you have two options; your buyer can take over your lease, or you can buy out your lease. You should discuss this with a real estate agent when you are considering selling to find out the most profitable option You can actually use the options as negotiation terms with the buyer

What company should I buy from?

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As with any major home improvement project, you should get bids from multiple installers and compare the results. The solar company should give you an estimate of how much power that system is going to produce based on annual statistics of: the weather in your region, the angle of your roof, and its ordinal orientation. Those factors will determine the size of the system and how much electricity, on average, it will produce every year.

You can compare solar companies here – Energysage.com

What if it damages my house or it breaks?

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You can buy a maintenance policy with your solar panels. Make sure to read the policy carefully and understand what you get and don’t get. Will they come out and clean the panels on a regular basis? Panels can be obscured by dust and dirt and this will lower their power absorption capacity. Will the policy cover roof damage? If not then you need to check with your homeowners insurance policy and see how they will cover any roof damage that may occur while the solar panels are attached to the roof. Solar panels typically have a life span of 25 years.

Also, get a roofer to come out and check the viability of your roof. Have any repairs done before the solar install. It will save you a world of trouble to do this before install as opposed to after install. Call me if you need a good roofer recommendation.

Is it the right time to buy solar panels?

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The Tesla Powerwall is a battery that stores solar energy in your garage

One in 100 houses have solar says David Feldman, senior financial analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, that’s 46 times as many as a decade ago. Some of that fast growth is due to a federal tax credit that is worth 30% of installation costs. This tax credit is at it’s highest now and is scheduled to drop to 10% in 2020. Right now it is a prime time for solar. Costs have dropped significantly, systems are in place for you to sell energy back to the power company. Battery tech will come out later this year which will allow you to use solar power at night or charge an electric vehicle. Connected appliances like thermostats and hot water heaters can work in concert, woven together by intelligent software to optimize when a home consumes, stores, and conserves energy. It’s an exciting time for smart home tech.

How am I helping the environment with solar?

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According to the EPA, the average household emits approximately 20 metric tons of carbon pollution each year. By installing a solar power system, a typical two-person household eliminates between 3 and 4 tons of carbon annually. This means that you are helping to slow down global warming.

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