How Going Solar Can Actually Save You Money

By Monchette Gonda
April 22, 2017

You’ve likely heard the hype surrounding Tesla’s Solar Roof. Indeed, this was big news in the solar world. In 2016, Tesla acquired SolarCity, the country’s largest provider of solar energy services. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has since announced that it will soon unveil its new technologically advanced and aesthetically superior solar roofs.

This announcement reflects rising consumer interest in solar energy as more Americans seek environmentally-friendly energy alternatives while also lowering their power bills. This Earth Day, we’re celebrating solar energy and its ability to save you money while saving the environment. Read on to learn how solar technology can save you money.

Why is solar now so popular?

The technology used in today’s solar panels has been around for more than 50 years. So, why is solar just taking off now? The answer boils down to a lower price-tag, higher savings, and greater efficiency.

In the past, potential solar homeowners were faced with the high cost of installing panels. Today, however, solar panels are more efficient and affordable. In fact, the average price of solar energy nationwide has dropped 67% in the last five years. Compare that to the rising cost of electricity, and solar providers can readily advertise potential savings of up to 20% on energy bills.

It looks like there’s no end in sight for the expanding solar industry, which grew by 97% in 2016 and is on track to triple from powering 8.3 million homes last year to 22 million homes by 2021.

Is solar the right option for you?

If you want to see how solar can benefit you financially, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research. Luckily, this is easy. Online tools like Google’s Project Sunroof are using increasingly sophisticated technology to calculate the potential savings you can expect from going solar. Project Sunroof uses Google Maps, Google Earth, 3D modeling, and machine learning technology to estimate the amount of sunlight your roof gets throughout the year. Google’s proprietary algorithm then crunches the numbers for you to determine how much you could save over the next 20 years by switching to solar energy.

Project Sunroof also looks up typical electricity rates and solar energy prices for your region, as well as available solar rebates and incentives provided by your state. Rebates and incentives can vary widely by state, but they have the potential to save consumers thousands. Find out how your state rewards you for going solar using the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

The best of both worlds

Choosing to go solar doesn’t mean you have to commit to going “off the grid”. Many solar-powered homes can remain connected to the electricity grid. This means you can tap into regular power sources if your solar panels or roof don’t produce enough energy. Likewise, if you live in some regions of the country, you can even get paid for the solar energy you don’t use. Here’s how it works: If you produce more energy than you use, the excess energy is fed back into the electric grid. The local utility company then pays for the energy via energy credits to your account. This arrangement is called “net metering” and provides yet another avenue for you to save on your energy bills.

The bright side: solar savings 

Today’s solar panels have a lifespan of about 20 years, which means homeowners can lock in lower energy rates for decades. To top it off, solar leases, solar loans, and power purchase agreements are providing additional financing options beyond purchasing your solar system outright. Owning your solar panels can cost you $15,000 to $30,000 before rebates and incentives, but leases and loans can allow you to go solar for as little as $0 down. Solar savings calculators make it easy to learn about financing options available in your area by aggregating quotes from local installers.

That said, not everyone is in a position to install a home solar system. You might rent your home, live in an area with low solar energy potential, or simply not be ready to make the switch. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed to miss out on solar savings for life. Researchers are continually developing new solar technologies and improving existing ones, which means you can always go solar when the time is right for you.

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