Should You Go Solar?

by ritasimpson on October 29, 2013

in Latest News

 

Rising energy costs combined with an increasing concern for the health of our planet, has got a lot of people wondering if they should install solar panels on their home. Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of going solar.

Pro: Solar panels will save you money in the long run.

Con: The initial installation cost is high

Cost is the main factor keeping most people from running out to install solar panels right this second. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect to pay for installation, and what you may recoup after the panels are in place.

Solar panels are not cheap. They can cost around $5 per watt, or $15,000 for an average residential 3kW system.

However, if you install your system before 2016, you get help from the federal government. In an effort to encourage homeowners to go green, the U.S. government currently offers a residential federal tax credit of 30 percent, which will remain in place until Dec. 31, 2016.

Depending on where you live, your state may offer incentives for installing solar. If you live in a sunny state with a high solar rating—a measurement of the average solar energy available for your home—such as Arizona, California, or New Mexico, you may find additional incentives like cash back, waived fees, and expedited permits. You can look up the available credits in your state at http://www.dsireusa.org/.

While the solar system itself is a significant initial investment, it has immediate monetary benefits.

There are several factors that will determine whether or not you can rely entirely on solar energy, the main one being the hours of sunlight hitting your panels each day. If you are able to rely entirely on solar energy, the cost benefits are immediate because you will no longer have an electric bill to pay.

In some cases you will actually be able to sell your extra energy back to the electric company. Both of these factors will help you to recoup your initial installation fees.

The finance blog nerdwallet.com says a conservative estimate of the average yearly savings is $600. However, if you add state incentives and live in a very sunny climate, this number will likely be higher.

Another factor to consider is rising energy costs. According to a study from the Edison Electric Institute, electricity prices went up 2.5 percent annually from 2000 to 2006, and are following a steady upward trend. That rising cost is being driven in part by the rising cost of fuels, such as coal and natural gas.

The sooner you can start relying on alternative forms of energy, such as solar, the more money you can eventually save.

Pro: Solar energy is good for the planet. Unlike fossil fuels, solar is a renewable form of energy as long as the sun continues to shine. Solar panels don’t pollute the air. They are silent. They don’t require the chopping down of trees or the fracking of the earth.

Con: Positioning can be tricky, depending on where you live. If your home is situated in a deep grove of shade trees, or settled in the heart of Seattle’s rain shadow, then solar will be more difficult to manage. It’s still possible to use solar in those circumstances, but the panels won’t provide as much of your energy as they would in a place like San Diego or Las Vegas.

Con: Some people find them unattractive. One day, solar panels might be a status symbol, or a designed with greater beauty in mind, but for now, they can be an eyesore. Design is already improving from the clunky panels of yesteryear, but some people still find them unsightly.

Pro: Live off the beaten path. There are some places in America where it can be difficult to get access to electricity. Solar, on the other hand, can go anywhere you want to go. If you love the life of a hermit, or desire to build a commune far out in the desert, consider solar panels as a viable energy option.

One day, most homes will likely run on solar power. Consider getting a head start and take advantage of the federal tax incentive before 2016!

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