SolarPanels

Going Solar

Investments
What to know about adding solar panels to your home

We’ve all experienced the sinking feeling of opening a utility bill and seeing a few more zeros than we anticipated. Ouch! The sky-high costs of keeping a home running can put a serious ding in the household budget.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like our pocketbooks will be getting a break anytime soon. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity prices in most areas of the U.S. are only expected to increase in 2015. Unless, that is, you’re willing to consider solar energy as an alternative method of powering your home.

If you had told us people would be harnessing sunlight to power their houses ten years ago, we would’ve kindly asked you to remove your tinfoil hat. Now, the idea doesn’t seem far-fetched at all. In fact, federal and local tax incentives (along with increasing concerns about global warming) have made solar panels more common with U.S. homeowners.

According to Daily Finance, SolarCity and Vivint Solar are responsible for installing more than half the residential solar panel systems in the U.S., and both have big plans for expansion this year. The solar industry is growing so rapidly that it’s possible 2015 will be the first year that over half of new electricity generation in the U.S. will come from solar panels.

Does reducing your carbon footprint and saving an average of $84 per month on your electricity bill sound good to you? We thought so. Here’s what you need to know if you plan to make the switch to solar power in the near future. 

  • Falling costs and improving technology are making solar energy possible for many homeowners. By 2017, more than half the U.S. states could have rooftop solar power that’s as cheap as local electricity prices.
  • States to keep an eye on in the residential solar industry this year include Nevada, Texas, and Florida. These states have high solar insolation and relatively high energy costs, making them ideal markets for expansion.
  • Solar panels are becoming more affordable. Prices have dropped 60 percent since the beginning of 2011, bringing the average up-front costs to about $17,000 after taking federal and local tax credits into account.
  • Residential properties that convert to solar energy by the end of 2016 can take advantage of the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Local tax incentives vary by city and state.
  • A permanent solar panel installation may increase the value of your home and make it more appealing to buyers. Who wouldn’t want to save energy without having to deal with the hassle of installation?

Ready or not, solar energy is coming to an area near you. If you don’t have enough cash to cover the up-front installation costs, consider taking out a loan to bridge the gap. Just be sure your monthly payment will be less than your average electricity bill to ensure you’re still saving money.

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Kate Kasbee
Kate Kasbee is a blogger and freelance copywriter living in Los Angeles. She has a background in real estate marketing and has also written about a variety of subjects including pet care, how to adopt a vegan diet, and technology. Prior to living in sunny California, Kate spent eight years in Chicago where she lived in nine different apartments in five different neighborhoods. Though she’s not quite done exploring, Kate dreams of planting her roots and owning a home with creaky floors and plenty of land for starting an organic farm.
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