Save Your Money and the Planet: How to Go Solar

solar panels in the bright sunlight

The percentage of people in the United States who rely on solar energy is still relatively small, but there has recently been a dramatic uptick in solar installations.

In fact, in the first quarter of 2018, the U.S. installed 2.5 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity. This provides enough energy to power 10.7 million U.S. homes!

Are you interested in switching to solar energy to power your home?

Read on to learn more about the benefits of using solar energy and how to go solar.

Benefits of Using Solar Energy

If you're interested in using solar energy but are still on the fence about the benefits that come with it, this list may change your mind:

Reduce Electricity Bills

One of the greatest benefits of going solar is the fact that you can significantly decrease the cost of your electricity bills.

You can use solar panels for everything from heating your home to heating your pool. By relying on the sun's energy for these tasks, you can decrease your electric bills anywhere from 50 to 85 percent!

Earn Tax Credits

Outfitting your home with solar panels can also help you earn some pretty impressive tax credits.

First, when you file your federal income taxes, you receive 30 percent of the total cost of the system.

There are also many state and local incentives and rebates that you can take advantage of. Every city and state offers different benefits, so you'll need to do your research to see what you qualify for.

Help the Environment

Of course, solar energy is also great for the environment. It helps combat the emission of greenhouse gases and minimizes dependence on fossil fuels like coal, which are most commonly burned to produce electricity.

Solar energy also requires little to no water, so it doesn't strain the world's water supply. The same cannot be said for fossil fuels -- their production requires a great deal of water.

Improve Public Health

Solar energy is also better for public health. Coal and other fossil fuels are responsible for much of the world's air and water pollution.

By reducing this pollution, we can also reduce premature mortality and lower health care costs.

Create New Jobs

Solar employment also creates new jobs. More than 260,000 people currently work in the U.S. solar industry, and new jobs are being added to accommodate the increase in demand for solar energy. In fact, one study found that solar employment has grown 17 times faster than the total U.S. economy.

Increase Home Value

Finally, adding solar panels to your home increases its total value. One study found that homes with solar panels are sold 20 percent faster and for 17 percent more money.

If you're planning on selling your home at some point, adding solar panels can be a great way to get more out of it.

How to Go Solar

At this point, you may be convinced that going solar is a good idea. But, how do you get started?

Listed below are some simple tips that will guide you in your journey to go solar.

Hire a Professional

The process of installing solar panels isn't exactly simple. There's a lot of specialized wiring required, and the panels need to be placed in a specific way in order for you to have the most efficient system possible.

It's best to hire a professional installation company in order to get it right.

When it comes to choosing an installation company, look for one that offers a strong warranty. The inverter (the part responsible for energy conversion) should be guaranteed for at least 10 years, and the panels should be guaranteed for 20-25 years.

Make sure the company uses U.S.-manufactured panels, too. This ensures that the panels will still be covered even if the company goes out of business.

Finally, check to ensure the company hasn't received many (if any) complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

Evaluate Costs

It's no secret that solar panels aren't exactly cheap. While you can significantly reduce the cost with the help of tax credits, it's also important to compare prices when you're looking for an installation company.

There are a few different ways you can go about funding the installation.

There are different loans and energy efficient mortgages available to help you pay for your system. Some charity organizations will also help cover the cost of solar panels for people in low-income households. Many people also utilize solar leases to offset the upfront cost.

If you take the leasing approach, make sure your loan payment is lower than your typical electricity bill. This way, you'll be able to see savings right away.

Keep in mind that leasing doesn't come with the same tax credits as a permanent installation.

Consider Factors that Will Affect Light Exposure

Tall buildings, chimneys, and trees can all affect the amount of light exposure your home receives. This, in turn, affects the efficiency of your system.

An installer will talk to you about potential hindrances and help you figure out the best position for your panels to help you see the greatest number of benefits. Most installers, including this company, will provide this analysis for free.

Determine Energy Usage

It's also important to figure out your current energy usage. Look at your most recent energy bill and figure out, on an average day, how many kilowatts you use. This will help the installer figure out how many panels you need.

Install the Panels

Once you've done your due diligence, you'll be ready to actually get the panels installed.

The wiring and installation process usually lasts a few days. Keep in mind, though, that it can take up to a few months between signing a contract with an installation company and the actual installation.

This, in part, has to do with the fact that you need to obtain a permit before you can actually go solar.

Want to Learn More?

Now that you know how to go solar, are you looking for other tips on how you can improve your home?

Whether you're looking to make changes for function or aesthetics, we've got the resources to help. Be sure to check out some of our home and garden articles today.


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