Are you curious about solar energy, but scared away by the up-front costs? It's an understandable concern. Although going solar can dramatically reduce or even eliminate your electricity bill, the initial installation of the panels can cost between $15,000 and $30,000, far beyond the reach of many homeowners. However, a shift in the market means that solar energy isn't just a luxury product anymore – it's now within the financial reach of families across America.
Cheaper Parts and New Leasing Models
There are several factors at play that make solar energy more accessible to middle and working class families:
- Solar panels are cheaper than they used to be. As the technology gets better and the consumer market expands, the sticker price keeps dropping. Over the past quarter century, the price of solar photovoltaic cells has plunged by an astonishing 99 percent.
- State and federal tax credits can help shoulder the costs. Uncle Sam will reimburse up to 30 percent of a new solar system until the end of 2016, and many states have additional incentives for renewable energy.
- New leasing models are cutting back or eliminating up-front costs. Many companies, like Direct Energy Solar, are offering free installation, so you get the savings of solar without investing a dime of your own money.
But How Does it Work?
Most solar systems don't actually power your house directly from the solar panels. Instead, the panels are hooked into the electricity grid, and the utility company purchases whatever energy you produce. Normally, a home will still consume more electricity than it produces, so the homeowner will owe the utility some amount of money – but a sum much lower than that of a normal electricity bill. For homes that are perfectly positioned, it is possible to produce more electricity than you use, and therefore cancel out the bill entirely.
For a more off-the-grid option, some people hook their solar panels up to batteries and power their homes directly. However, under this setup, you have to carefully limit your consumption so you don't drain the batteries prematurely. You also won't be eligible for a no-cost-up-front leasing program either.
Will Solar Work for Me?
There are several factors that determine the suitability of your home for solar panels. Among others, the size and orientation of your roof and how much shade it receives play a big role. The sunniness of your climate is also an important consideration. If you want to investigate going solar, you can have technicians come to your house to measure the roof and give you an estimate of how much power you can produce on-site.
Partnering with a company like Direct Energy Solar comes with other benefits as well. If you opt for the free installation model, you don't own the panels, so the company takes care of all necessary repairs and maintenance. The company also handles all the red tape and paperwork, so all you have to do is sit back and feel good about helping the environment while saving money on utility bills thanks to the enduring power of the sun.