Wherever you live in the United States, you understand that the sun is a powerful force. Whoever decided it was a good idea to bottle up some of that intense energy was a genius—and clearly someone who didn’t want the heat of the summer to go to waste. When we are forced to confront the power of the sun directly, it can be staggering to realize how much pure energy is freely falling on all of us.
Although solar power was once a prohibitively expensive energy technology, it’s now becoming more and more accessible for residential customers across the nation. The question is, should you invest? There are plenty of pros and cons for you to consider before installing a solar electric system for your own home. Whether or not putting solar panels on your home’s roof is your thing, you’ll also be happy to learn that switching to a power supplier that offers RECs is an equally viable – and easier – option for going green with your electricity.
How Installing Solar Panels Could Save You Money
Should I add solar panels to my home? A quick Google search for this question brings you a solar savings estimator. When I enter a random address in Austin, TX, Google lets me know that I stand to save about $3,000… and when you look in the fine print, it’s specified that these savings are over a 20-year lease with no upfront cost. That looks great! Right?
It’s easy to understand that collecting your own residential electricity from the sun means that you have to purchase a lot less electricity from a supplier. According to NC State research, you could offset anywhere from 50-80% on your monthly bill by taking advantage of solar technology. Using a solar calculator, preferably from the company you decide to work with, can help you nail down exactly how much you stand to save.
Aside from the savings you might gain on your monthly electric bill, there are other ways that installing solar panels has been incentivized to be more advantageous to homeowners. You could get a cash rebate from your utility company, receive a tax credit from the national government, or take part in local incentive programs. If you live in Los Angeles, for example, there are a bunch of ways the state enables you to make money off your solar energy. And if you live in the Northeast, you probably have even more programs like these to take advantage of—which is why these states have some of the highest rates of solar usage in the nation. You might even be able to sell energy back to your utility if you collect more than you need. Bonus points!
Why Investing in Solar Might Not Be Financially Advantageous
As electricity grows more and more expensive with inflation over time, it might appear that solar energy is a better way to go—because it’s free. Isn’t it? Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors at play that you need to consider in order to truly save when installing solar. And as you can see, they appear at every stage of the process:
You need to decide between buying cheap or expensive solar equipment. Going cheaper makes for a smaller initial investment, but equipment with lower efficiency ratings might not save you enough to be financially worth it.
Installation costs are a factor. Although these costs have decreased over the past two decades, they’re still a significant expenses to consider. DIY solar panel installation exists, but you might not get the results you’re looking for. Professionals are able to triangulate panel placement with much more precision and allow you to collect the most energy possible. You might not luck into that perfect angle on your own.
Whether you are considering obtaining your solar equipment through a cash purchase, a solar loan, lease, or power purchase agreement (PPA), you need to carefully weigh your options. If you get a PPA or lease, you are disqualified from receiving the government tax credit.
Choosing your contractor can be tricky. Smaller companies often offer lower rates, with large installers costing up to $5,000 more per home. If the quality of the product and the installation are the same, you don’t want to pay more just for a big name. According to the NREL’s report on solar PV quotes (and common sense), it’s best to receive quotes from multiple companies before investing in one solar product.
If you’re going into home solar energy without awareness of these complex facets, you might be in for a really rude financial awakening. It’s best to do a thorough amount of research before moving forward with any quote to ensure you’re getting the deal that works best for your home and your pocketbook.
An Easier Way to Go Green
Installing solar panels on your roof is definitely an option to consider for homeowners who want to reduce their carbon footprint. However, if you’re looking for an easier, risk-free way to go green, you might want to consider switching to an electricity plan that lets you purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) instead.
RECs are simple: a local wind farm or hydroelectric plant pushes renewable energy onto the grid, adding green energy into the electricity pool. The producers of this energy release one REC for every 1 MWh they produce, which you can then purchase. Even though there’s no way to be sure that the exact electricity that’s powering your light switch is coming from the wind farm, your dollars are directly supporting renewable sources and ensuring your own usage is offset by green energy.
These plans, like Liberty Green, allow you to power your home with renewable energy without changing anything on your rooftop. No hassle and no installation. You can feel great about supporting renewable resources in your area and nationwide without the financial risk of solar panels.
Looking to find out more about how you can get your hands on a Renewable Energy Credit electric plan? Contact us today to learn how Liberty Power is supplying our clients with clean, green energy from sustainable sources to protect our environment, today and for future generations.
Photo Credit: Aleksandr Eremin