All things energy, from solar and wind power to efficiency and off-grid living.
The advantages of solar energy are continuing to prove themselves for homeowners in the wake of huge declines in upfront costs, proven resale value benefits, as well as national and state tax rebates. Although the benefits of generating free electricity without any harm to the environment is a no brainer, the process of acquiring the right solar system for your home can become a little confusing.
Thanks to professional resources like the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), evaluating your solar power needs and understanding the best type of solutions for your home has never been easier. SEIA has made available several consumer guides to solar power that make it simpler for homeowners to properly evaluate offers (its best to get a number solar power quotes) and fully comprehend your agreement terms.
SEIA’s most recent residential consumer guide to solar power outlines several key areas:
Solar Panel Ownership
There are several options you have when it comes to solar panel installation on your house. The first step will be deciding the type of ownership you want with your system.
If you’re looking for the biggest return on investment and have saved up the money, you can buy the system outright. Now is a good time to do so considering that upfront costs have never been lower and electricity from utility providers continue to rise. You can also achieve ownership by securing a loan.
Either option will allow you to reap all of the benefits, like tax credits, and electricity that the system generates. You may also be in charge of maintenance, although some installers offer services on purchased systems.
The second option is to lease a system for a determined period of time and benefit from the electricity generated. In this case, the solar company is responsible for the upkeep and sometimes has zero money down options.
Thirdly, you can pay for the sustainable electricity generated from a solar system without paying for a lease, with a power purchase agreement (PPA). In this case, a system is installed on your home and you purchase the electricity produced from the solar company for a set rate. This gives you the luxury of having no responsibility for the system, generate clean energy, and in most cases pay a lower cost than if you bought electricity from a utility company.
Evaluate Your Home
Think about your personal electricity usage and how it’s used in your home. You should take a look at your utility bill and how much kilowatt-hours (kWh) your household uses and how much you’re currently paying for it. This will help determine the number of panels and output you will need from the system.
You should also check out your roof and get at solar professional come out for an evaluation. They will be able to provide a consolation and calculate the amount of sunlight you’re currently getting and if its enough.
Get the Best Deal
Whether you’re purchasing, getting a loan, or leasing a system, SEIA stresses the importance of getting several quotes for your solar system. The market has become competitive, which is to the advantage of consumers, but you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of each solar power company to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
When using a marketplace like 123SolarPower, you can be assured that the companies are certified and have plenty of experience in your area. However you decide to shop, do your research on potential solar power companies and don’t be afraid to ask for references. You can also ask for their proof of licensure and check the BBB for any consumer complaints. Make sure that they are familiar with any tax credits you qualify for through the state or federal government. (Read more about the best states for solar.)
Lastly, make sure you understand the terms of your solar agreement. Contracts are legally binding so make sure you’re comfortable with what you’ll be receiving and the amount you’re paying. Ask plenty of questions and inquire about specifics within the warranty.
You can always use a solar power calculator to determine how much you could be saving each month on your electricity bill. It may seem like a lot, but its important to go with your gut and make sure you’re getting the best value for your needs to use solar panels to save the most money you can!
Photo by iStock/gyn9038
Sarah Kezer is passionate about helping others take advantage of the power of solar energy. At 123SolarPower, Sarah assists in answering questions and providing expert information for users to explore their options when it comes to going solar. 123SolarPower connects individuals with the largest network of solar power providers in the U.S. Read all of Sarah's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.