Do you know that only 1% of homes in the United States have solar panels today? This may not sound like much but it’s actually the result of an exploding solar market. There’s every indication that within the next ten years, solar power will become ubiquitous.
In many ways, today’s solar energy market is like the smart phone market of ten years ago. Disruptive change is around the corner, and here are the top five reasons to go solar today.
The federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar energy was recently extended so that it will remain at the 30 percent level through 2019 and then ramp down over the following three years, before being eliminated completely for residential customers. This is essentially a 30 percent discount on your solar system courtesy of Uncle Sam, for those of you who opt to purchase your system (with or without a loan). Those who lease or go with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) are not eligible to claim the ITC.
Over the past decade, the cost of going solar has plummeted. It has never been cheaper to go solar, especially when you factor in financial incentives like the ITC. However, the rate at which these costs are coming down is slowing now and we can’t expect to see the same rate of decline in future years.
Equipment prices have taken the most dramatic plunge, but it’s the other so called soft costs, related to customer acquisition, permits and site design, that are more stubborn and difficult to budge. These will continue to decrease, but not at the rate equipment prices fell.
Electricity prices continue to go up. On average, they have increased by nearly 33 percent in the past decade across the United States. As rates rise, solar energy becomes more and more profitable. By going solar today, you can minimize the risk of rising electricity rates and lock in savings by producing your own electricity for the lifetime of your panels, on average 20-25 years.
Most of us cannot afford to make an outright purchase of a solar power system (which costs on average about $20,000 for a 5 kW system before the ITC or other incentives are factored in). Thankfully, the cost of financing your system, whether you choose to go with a loan, a lease or a PPA, is made more affordable with the low interest rates available today. Interest rates are expected to increase, so researching your financing options today could save you money.
For some, the decision to go solar is purely economic – will solar panels save me money in the long run? For others, it is about more than that. We have been hearing a lot about climate change in the past months, especially with the Pope’s proclamation that the world needs to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and the Paris Climate Conference this past December.
More and more homeowners are asking themselves what they can do to help fight climate change. We can all start with some simple energy efficiency measures at home and learn more about the benefits of solar energy.
Going solar today is one of the safest investments available, one that can save you money over the next 20-25 years, increase the value of your home and help the environment, all at the same time. Make the most of this opportunity by investigating solar for your home today.
Simone Garneau is the co-founder of Sunmetrix, an online consumer education website for residential solar energy. The goal of Sunmetrix is to help homeowners go solar and save money with our Solar Cashback Program. In addition to the 200+ articles about solar energy, Sunmetrix offers homeowners two main tools: Discover, to preview solar energy for your home, and GO, the only solar energy test drive experience. Read all of Simone's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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