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In the short term, solar panels are very expensive, but in the long term, they can actually save money for their owners, sometimes a lot of money, assuming that the solar panels are installed and maintained properly. In fact, in some instances, a solar array can even generate money for its owners, creating a return on the initial investment.
The initial outlay of cash involved in a solar panel installation can be high, although the cost of solar technology is constantly decreasing. Before installing solar panels, homeowners and renters installing with the permission of their landlords should look into available subsidies and credits. Sometimes, tax credits or rebates are offered to people who install panels, and in other cases subsidies are available from the government or community agencies.
Another option is rental of solar panels. Some power companies and solar organizations offer solar panel rental, in which people pay a modest fee for installation and then rent the panels as long as they want to use them. Some of these programs are rent-to-own, allowing people to make the initial investment in solar panels over an extended period of time. Both of these options can help people save money from the start with solar panels.
Once solar panels are installed and functioning, they will start to save money right away, because they will reduce demands on the electrical grid. Some people go entirely solar, disconnecting their house from the electrical grid or using panels to power a home which is outside an area covered by public utilities. In the case of homes which have no utility-supplied sourced of electricity, the savings are immediate, because otherwise very high fees would need to be paid to the utility to extend their coverage. Savings for homes with access to electricity from a utility will be spread out over time as people no longer need to pay electrical bills.
Some power companies allow for reverse metering, in which the electrical meter runs backward when solar panels are generating more energy than the house can use. In this case, the homeowners get a check at the end of the month for the energy they feed back into the grid. This also reduces overall demand on the grid, which can entitle customers with solar panels to special rebates or reduced fees for electricity when they need it.
For solar panels to operate efficiently, they need to be kept in good working order. It is important to clean them regularly to remove dirt and other materials which can obscure the solar array, and to angle the panels properly so that they catch the most light. As the seasons change, the panels should be rotated to get the most sun, ensuring that they as much exposure as possible. It also helps to use energy-efficient appliances which will make the most of the power generated by the solar array.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much can I save on my electricity bill by installing solar panels?
Electricity bill savings from solar panels vary based on your location, energy consumption, and the size of your solar system. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most homeowners save about $600 to $800 per year on their electricity bills by going solar. These savings can be even higher in states with higher electricity rates.
Are there any incentives or rebates available for solar panel installation?
Yes, there are several incentives available for solar panel installation. The federal government offers a Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which, as of early 2023, allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. Additionally, many states and local utilities offer rebates and other incentives. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is a comprehensive resource for finding available offers in your area.
What is the average payback period for solar panels?
The average payback period for solar panels typically ranges from 5 to 10 years, depending on factors like local energy costs, solar system size, and available incentives. According to EnergySage, the average solar payback period in the U.S. is about 8 years. After this period, your solar panels continue to save you money for the duration of their lifespan, which is usually 25-30 years.
Do solar panels increase home value?
Installing solar panels can indeed increase your home's value. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that homes with solar panels sell for a premium, with an average increase in resale value of about $15,000. This is because potential buyers appreciate the energy savings and environmental benefits that solar panels provide.
How does the cost of solar panels compare to traditional energy sources?
The cost of solar panels has decreased significantly over the past decade, making them a competitive alternative to traditional energy sources. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), solar photovoltaic (PV) prices have fallen by about 82% since 2010. When considering long-term savings on utility bills and potential incentives, solar can be a cost-effective choice.
Can I still save money with solar panels if I live in a less sunny area?
Yes, you can still save money with solar panels even if you live in a less sunny area. Solar panels can generate electricity even on cloudy days, albeit at lower efficiency. Moreover, some regions with less sunshine offer higher incentives to offset this, and the cost of electricity in your area can also play a significant role in your savings. It's important to get a site-specific assessment to understand your potential savings.