Six Ways Solar Saves You Money


It’s not exactly a new revelation, but owning a home is expensive. You finally get through a pricey plumbing mishap, only to find out you suddenly need a new fridge. When it comes to improving your energy profile, not every project delivers the same value. So if you are looking into going solar but are feeling that sticker shock, know this: the return on investment is high. This is especially true for homeowners who choose to purchase their solar system with cash or loan. In fact, many homeowners recoup their initial costs within a few years of owning their system, while getting reduced energy bills and electricity credits the whole time. Check out all the ways your new solar system will keep you saving—today, tomorrow, and long into the future.

Solar Lowers Your Utility Bills

The most obvious way solar saves you some serious green is through all the free energy you’ll generate with your own solar panels. That amount varies, of course, depending on the size of your system, your utility rate, your energy consumption, and how much sunlight your roof receives throughout the year. However, if your monthly utility costs are low, you may generate enough energy in some months to completely offset your bills. Or you may even surpass your monthly consumption—in which case, your energy provider may offer you a credit for the extra watts you produce. To get a feel for the average solar potential of your rooftop, see what factors determine your solar potential.

Solar Can Earn You Rebates and Incentives

Thanks to the federal government, 30% of your system costs and installation expenses are totally covered by a federal rebate available on your tax return. You’ll get back several thousand dollars in that first year. In addition to that, many states, local governments, and energy providers also have their own incentive programs—although the availability of options really depends on how solar-friendly your area is. Thankfully, NC State University has put together a database of solar programs, called DSIRE, which you can peruse for help finding rebates in your area. Learn more about the 30% tax credit and incentives in your state.

Solar Can Earn You Credits for the Energy You Generate

Almost every state in the US has authorized a net metering program, which allows grid-connected residents to receive credit for the energy they return to the grid. In some states, excess credits can even be rolled over to next month’s bill, or cashed out as a payment after a certain amount of time has elapsed. That means if you’re generating excess energy, you may be able to apply the credits to a monthly bill where you didn’t produce enough energy to cover your needs. In fact, in some states, like New Jersey, credits can be sold to providers independently at market value. Learn more about net metering.

Solar Increases Your Property Values

One of the lesser known benefits of solar power is that it can actually boost property values for your home. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California examined sales data from 2002 to 2013 for about 23,000 homes in eight states. They found that buyers are willing to pay $15,000 more for a home with solar. That’s just about the cost of a small solar system—after adjusting for the federal rebate—so you may be able to recoup almost 100% of the price of your system when you sell. That’s especially true if your live in an area with high electricity bills, or where green features are more in demand—if you live in an urban area, for instance.

Solar Panels Costs Are At Historically Low Levels

If you’re thinking about going solar, now is the time to cash in. Growing popularity has brought solar prices down to historical lows. Between 2014 and 2015, for instance, the average installation cost went down almost 5 percent, from $3.86 per watt to $3.69 per watt. And systems are also getting more technologically advanced and efficient at converting sunlight into the optimal amount of energy.

Solar Will Turn You Into an Energy Efficiency Addict

It’s no good pumping solar energy into a leaky, energy inefficient home. A lot of installers provide an energy audit as a standard service so you can make sure your electricity isn’t going right out the window. There are also many things you can do on your own to become energy-efficient. Places that especially need your attention? Your HVAC, air sealing, insulation, and windows are all important to preserve heating and cooling and keep it inside your home. In fact, just sealing and insulating your home’s ducts could reduce your unit’s efficiency by as much as 20 percent. With that kind of energy savings, you’ll have to grab your shades—because the future is certainly looking bright!

About the Writer

Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.