Lower Electrical Bill – Coming to a Home Near You?

It’s official – solar power isn’t just a passing fad. Solar panels are popping up on the roofs of residences across the U.S. and generating electricity for more homes as each year passes. As the solar revolution gains momentum, it is becoming more affordable to install a system that, long-term, saves you money. Plus, most states offer awesome incentives – fat tax credits that are worth a look. Going solar is making both environmental and financial sense for many homeowners.

A few states take the lead in utilizing photovoltaic (PV) installations across the nation. California is king with more than 3 million residential houses utilizing solar power for lights, fridges, espresso makers, computers, and TVs. Arizona, New Jersey, and North Carolina rank high, too, with 200-300,000 residences per state running off the sun. On a related note, as more PVs are installed, more jobs are available. While California leads with 75,000 solar jobs, small-but-strong Massachusetts follows with 15,000 jobs in solar energy.

Homeowners tend to go solar to save money by dramatically reducing (or eliminating) their electricity bill. But what is the ballpark cost to install – and what are the savings? You can do an informal study on your own by grabbing your latest electricity bill and logging on to the Solar Simplified investment calculator. By plugging in your average monthly bill, you can get an idea of how much you’ll be saving in Year One, and also the expected savings after you pay off a purchase.

The costs vary based on home size, electrical usage, and providers, but generally, a residential roof can be outfitted with PVs for anywhere between $15,000 and $30,000. However, cash rebates and tax incentives can cut that final cost in half. And, when you factor in the monthly electric savings, most homeowners can expect to break even in seven years and start saving cash. Over twenty-five years, a buyer could tuck away $25,000. That’s money in the bank or savings for college!

Across the nation, two words put the fire under people considering solar. Say it with me: tax credits. Incentives abound! Each state has varied policies, but most will reward you at tax time for going solar, and not just the first year. For the latest in your state, check out www.dsireusa.org.

Saving money in the long run makes sense for most homeowners, especially when solar companies allow for flexibility. For example, SolarCity, a nationwide industry leader, gives consumers the option to buy or lease the panels, and they also assist if the homeowner decides to sell their home. The panels can be transferred to the buyer with a lease or own option – thereby increasing the home’s property value.

Leases are desirable to some homeowners because there is typically no money down and repairs are often included. Leasing the panels means a portion of the energy generated returns to the solar company, but because these energy-generators are so efficient, consumers still reap major benefits from the usage. More pros and cons can be found here.

There’s so much info out there and so many companies, it’s important to do a little research before signing on with a provider, so you get what is best for you. A good place to compare contractors in your state is right here.

Distinguished is committed to staying abreast of technology and programs that enhance the way we operate, as a company and as a nation. The Solar Energy Industries Association has tons of great resources for those interested in learning more. We’ve got our eye on the solar movement, so stay tuned for future articles from Distinguished about solar initiatives for businesses and hotels.