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Answers to Your Most Common Solar Energy Questions

| 3/14/2016 9:49:00 AM

Solar Energy Home Improvement

Now that spring is here, many homeowners are thinking about taking advantage of the warmer weather and longer days to tackle some home improvement projects. You don’t need to look very far to find a great opportunity to increase the value of your home and save you money in the long run – just look up! Solar energy is growing in popularity because of its many benefits. But homeowners naturally have a number of important questions. I hope to answer some of the most common ones here.

Will solar panels really save me money?

In many cases, the answer is yes, but it all depends on three important considerations, all of which are location dependent. The most obvious one is the amount of sunshine where you live, but this is less important than you might think (and I address this point in more detail below). The other very important factors is assessing the profitability of solar energy are the available financial incentives that bring down the cost and the price of electricity where you live. Obviously, the more you pay for electricity, the more you stand to save with solar energy.

The term grid parity is used to describe when the cost of solar electricity is the same or cheaper than electricity from your utility. A number of states have reached grid parity, such as California and New Jersey to name a couple. They receive quite different amounts of sunshine, but because of the generous incentives and the high cost of electricity, solar energy is a worthwhile investment in these states. In another example, going solar in Connecticut makes much more financial sense then in Florida (the Constitution State beats the Sunshine State hands down, when it comes to the value of solar electricity!)

A solar power calculator, like Sunmetrix Discover, can help you determine the profitability of solar energy where you live, and by adjusting some of the parameters in the Buy or Lease Calculator, you can determine the best way to finance your system. Generally speaking, a purchase (with or without a solar loan) will save you more money than a lease in the long run.

Doesn’t it have to be very sunny where I live?

It’s only natural to think about the level of sunshine where you live, when you think of solar energy. But even places that are fairly cloudy year round or further north with short winter days benefit from solar energy. Germany, for example, is a world leader in terms of installed solar capacity, and Berlin, Germany receives just over half as much solar radiation as Los Angeles, California. Yes, it’s true that cloudy places will not produce as much solar electricity, but they can still produce enough to be a profitable investment, if the other two factors I mentioned (available incentives and cost of electricity) are favorable for solar energy.

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