When I was a child growing up in the 80’s my Father took me on a tour of one of Maine’s latest architectural wonders, a magnificent chalet style home nestled in a field surrounded by a tall pine grove. It was a model home for a real estate developer who was hoping to sell and build more of the structures by generating interest in a new way of producing home energy: with solar power. I was probably ten years old, but I still remember the details of that house and the wish that I made at a young age to someday live off the grid in a house entirely powered by the sun.
That was 40 years ago, and today, I am living that dream. However it took some time to get there. In the nineties, I looked into the technology again, but the costs seemed astronomical compared to the benefits. In some cases, the price of solar panel installation was comparable to the entire value of the home itself! At some point my idealistic visions of free energy kind of withered away.
But thanks to new technology and the decreasing cost of solar panels, you and I and everyone else who has had fantasies about going off the grid can now experience it at long last.
This article will attempt to answer the question: “Are solar panels worth it?” by asking and answering some critical key questions, you will have a better idea of whether solar is an option you want to pursue.
What Does Your Current Electricity Bill Look Like?
Right now you are paying the electric company for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity you use. These rates vary widely from state to state with the most expensive being Hawaii at 31.21 cents per kWh and the least costly being Washington at 9.74 cents per kWh as of April 2018 (source).
When you install solar panels, it's kind of like installing a small power plant on your roof. This power plant replaces the one where your electric company gets its power from.
For more information about how solar energy actually works, have a look at this video:
The amount of money you can save in the short run on your energy bill is more if you live in an area where your electricity is more expensive. Conversely, if you live in a State where the price per kWh is relatively low, it would take you a bit longer to recoup the cost of solar panels.
How Can I Tell What I Will Save If I Go Solar?
To get a fast, free quote, fill out our quote form and we'll give you the exact amount it will cost to put solar panels on your home. We'll also give you financing and purchasing options so you can determine the best route for your situation.
Additionally, there are a few handy online tools can help you calculate this formula. Energy Sage has a decent interactive feature that uses your home’s address and your current monthly electric bill to come up with an estimate of how much you could save by going solar.
However, if you want a more accurate estimate, fill out our simple quote form. We use google maps to pinpoint your location, calculating the latitude and longitude, determining how many hours a day of sunlight you get, even taking into account the style, pitch, and surface of your roof to pinpoint your average costs and savings of going solar. We also factor in your current utility bills and average power usage to give you a very accurate number of how much you can save.
We'll also show you financing options and provide you estimates of how long it will take to realize a return on your investment.
Once you have researched the possible savings for your area, you should also check with your local municipality to find out the rules and regulations regarding solar panel installation. While it is hard to believe, some places do not allow solar.
How Do I Know I Am Getting The Best Price?
It's time to get some estimates on the cost of installation and the panels themselves. You will want to make sure that the contractors you choose are North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. You should also try and get at least four or five estimates to give you a solid overall picture of the costs involved. Take note of the type of panels each contractor offers. Not all panels are the same, and the quality does vary. You will want to research the manufacturer and gather reviews before saying yes to any bids.
At SunPower by The Solar Quote, we use SunPower panels which are the highest efficiency, best looking, and offer the longest warranty on the market. For more info on SunPower solar panels and to see why they're so much better, see this video:
How To Finance A Solar Project
The most cost effective way of going solar is to pay cash for it. But not everyone has money up front for a project that is meant to be saving money. For those who can't afford the initial outlay of cash, there are no money down loans available from SunPower by The Solar Quote. Many folks wonder at this point “Are Solar Panels Worth It”? While this will decrease your savings for the duration of the loan, it's still an option that saves you more compared to your current electricity costs.
Another popular option is through third-party ownership. By going this route, you would let a company install panels on your house, and then sign a contract to pay them for your electricity through a type of lease agreement.
Are There Any Government or Tax Incentives For Installing Solar Power To My Home?
We’re so glad you asked! Yes, there are indeed many incentive programs available depending on your location and circumstances. Some of these include:
State Tax Credit
Solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs)
Performance-based incentives (PBIs)
You can find out the details about all of these by visiting The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency by clicking here. This website will provide you with all the details about the rebates and incentives that may be available to you.
So we come back to the question: Are solar panels worth it? In many instances, yes. You will need to do your research to determine the cost/savings comparison for your area and take all the factors discussed into account. While it seems like a lot of work, I hope that we have simplified the process for you a little bit. May we all continue to dream of a world that utilizes clean energy and allows us to live grid free.
Do you have other queries about solar energy or solar panel installation? Feel free to contact us and let us help you with your questions.