Tips for Going Solar at Home
Solar power is used around the world to generate electricity, cook food, heat water, and warm buildings without the polluting emissions from conventional energy. In the US, the price of solar PV has dropped 75% from 2008 to 2013 and is now within reach for many businesses and homeowners. Solar has the potential to provide many times the current total energy demand in our country. Here are some tips for joining the solar revolution:
- Assess whether solar energy is the right choice for your home. How much is your monthly electricity bill? If it's less than $100, there may be more economical ways of saving on energy costs, such as weatherizing your home.
- Crunch the numbers before you get started! Check out this online resource from Find Solar and EarthShare member charity, the American Solar Energy Society. It features an average cost calculator, rebate information, and a directory of solar installers and distributors in your area.
- Remember to check the fine print when signing up for solar panel installation. Warranties for parts and accessories will often run out before the panels themselves.
- Determine if your roof has adequate sun exposure during peak hours of the day. Tree shade can increase system costs and greatly reduce panel efficiency.
- Consider leasing if the upfront costs of purchasing a PV system are too much for your household. In many states, leased systems can be installed for zero money down. Visit EnergySage for a list of solar financing companies.
- Go beyond PV. You can use the power of the sun not only to generate electricity, but also to heat your water. Many states are incentivizing solar hot water systems. Find out more at the Department of Energy website.
- Opt for a grid-tied system. Keeping it “grid-tied” will allow you to sell your excess energy and adds a built-in safety net of stored energy in case you need a little extra.
- Find a reputable and experienced local installer. A good installer will help you navigate through different incentive programs and permit procedures to keep initial costs low. Check with your local American Solar Energy Society (ASES) chapter for leads on reputable solar professionals in your area.