The average price for a solar panel has plummeted more than 60 percent since 2010, and installation costs have fallen 40 percent during the same period. If you’ve been unable to go solar in the past, now is the time to reconsider.
Despite such increased affordability, many people remain unaware of the financing options available for home solar systems, and comparing those options can be confusing. Should you choose a solar loan, solar lease or power-purchase agreement, or buy the panels outright? Now, a new online tool called EnergySage can help clear the air. This one-stop shop has easy-to-understand financing comparisons, as well as the nation’s first solar marketplace where installers compete for your business. As the recipient of two U.S. Department of Energy SunShot awards, EnergySage has been charged with moving the nation’s solar industry forward, and it aims to do for home solar power what online tools such as Expedia have done for air travel.
Here’s how it works: Input your address, and EnergySage will use aerial views of your home’s roof to gauge your solar potential and system cost. If you like the estimate, you can put it out for bid and receive three to five quotes from pre-screened, certified installers. “The competition means you can expect to pay 10 to 20 percent less than market averages,” says EnergySage CEO Vikram Aggarwal. The solar marketplace helps solar installers, too, by matching them with homeowners who want to invest in solar power.
No matter which financing option you choose, your photovoltaic panels will immediately begin paying for themselves through reduced utility bills. “If you buy your system, you’ll recover your investment in five to 10 years, depending on your location, and then receive free electricity for 15 to 20 years,” Aggarwal says.