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How Can Solar Save You Money?

By: Eric Huesca, SEO Content Writer

May 3, 2022

In the face of rising energy costs and environmental concerns, the search for sustainable, renewable energy solutions has never been more crucial. One such solution, and an increasingly popular one, is solar energy. But how exactly does this eco-friendly power alternative translate into financial savings? This comprehensive guide will explore the financial benefits of solar energy, detailing how installing solar panels can save you money and create a greener future.

Saving from going solar

Piggy bank filled with savings from going green and getting solar.

The Basics of Solar Energy

Solar energy is an abundant, renewable resource that harnesses the power of the sun to generate electricity. The science behind it is based on the photovoltaic effect, a process that occurs when photons, or particles of light, knock electrons free from atoms, thereby generating a flow of electricity.

The primary vehicle for converting sunlight into usable energy is the solar panel, which is made up of numerous smaller units called photovoltaic cells. These cells contain a semiconductor material, typically silicon, that absorbs sunlight and sets electrons in motion. When light interacts with the silicon cells, electrons are knocked loose from their atomic orbits and are captured in the form of an electric current, creating direct current (DC) electricity.

However, most of our everyday appliances run on alternating current (AC) electricity, not DC. To solve this, an inverter is used in the system to convert the DC electricity into AC electricity, suitable for use in homes, businesses, and other applications.

Solar energy represents a significant step towards sustainable living. It’s a non-polluting, clean, reliable and renewable source of energy. It reduces our reliance on coal and fossil fuels for electricity generation, thereby helping to cut greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. Despite the upfront costs, solar power can save households substantial amounts of money over time, making it not just an environmentally conscious decision, but also a sound financial one.

Understanding these basics can help individuals, communities, and businesses make informed decisions about adopting solar energy. As technology continues to advance, solar power is set to become an increasingly important part of our global energy mix.

Understanding the Costs: Initial Investment and Payback Time

The shift to solar energy often brings to mind one crucial question: what does it cost? Understanding the initial investment and the payback time for solar panels is essential in making an informed decision.

The initial cost of a solar energy system can seem significant, but it’s important to view it as an investment. This cost includes the purchase of the solar panels themselves, along with other necessary components like the inverter, batteries, wiring, and the cost of installation. In many cases, this can range from $15,000 to $25,000 depending on the size of the system and the region.

However, it’s important to factor in the long-term financial benefits. Once installed, solar panels significantly reduce or even eliminate your electricity bill. Over time, these savings add up and can offset the initial cost of the system. This period of recouping the initial investment is known as the “payback time.” Depending on the size of the system, the energy costs in your area, and the amount of sunlight your home receives, the payback time for a solar system can range between 6-10 years on average.

Moreover, many governments offer incentives, like tax credits and rebates, to individuals who switch to solar energy, which can reduce the initial costs significantly. After the payback period is over, the energy produced is virtually free, and any excess can often be sold back to the grid, providing an additional revenue stream.

Therefore, when considering the cost of a solar energy system, it’s important to consider not just the upfront price tag, but also the potential long-term savings, the lifespan of the system (which can be 25-30 years or more), and the added value to your property. With these factors in mind, solar energy is an investment that often makes economic sense.

Solar Incentives and Tax Credits

The adoption of solar energy has been greatly encouraged through various financial incentives and tax credits offered by federal and state governments, aiming to make renewable energy sources more affordable and appealing to the masses.

At the federal level in the United States, the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a significant incentive. This tax credit allows homeowners and businesses to deduct a portion of their solar costs from their taxes. As of my knowledge cut-off in 2021, the ITC allowed for a 26% deduction, though this rate is set to decline in the coming years. The ITC has been instrumental in making solar installations more financially viable for many people, decreasing the payback period for solar investments.

On top of federal incentives, many states offer additional incentives and subsidies that further reduce the cost of going solar. These can take various forms, including additional tax credits, cash rebates, performance-based incentives that provide cash back for every kilowatt-hour of solar energy produced, and net metering policies that credit solar energy producers for the electricity they add to the grid.

Importantly, some utility companies also have incentive programs for customers who install solar panels, providing yet another layer of financial encouragement. In some cases, the combination of federal, state, and utility incentives can offset a substantial portion of the initial cost of a solar energy system.

However, it’s crucial to note that these incentives often have expiration dates or scheduled step-downs in their value. As such, potential solar customers are advised to research current programs and take advantage of these incentives sooner rather than later to maximize their savings.

Lower Electricity Bills

One of the most tangible benefits of solar energy for many homeowners and businesses is the significant reduction in electricity bills. When you generate your own electricity with solar panels, you reduce the amount of energy you need to buy from your utility company, which can lead to substantial savings over time.

The exact amount you can save on your electricity bills with solar energy depends on several factors. These include the size and orientation of your solar panel system, the amount of sunlight your location receives, the amount of electricity you use, and the rates charged by your utility company.

In a grid-tied solar system, which is the most common type of solar installation, you can also take advantage of net metering policies. With net metering, when your solar panels produce more electricity than you need, the excess power is fed back into the grid, and your utility company credits you for it. You can then use these credits when your panels aren’t producing enough electricity, like at night or during cloudy weather.

While the initial investment for a solar energy system can be substantial, the savings on electricity bills can offset this cost over time. Depending on your local electricity rates and the cost of your solar system, you might be able to recover your initial investment in a few years and enjoy virtually free electricity for the remainder of your solar system’s lifespan, which is typically 25-30 years.

Net Metering and Selling Excess Power

One of the key advantages of installing a solar power system in your home or business is the ability to benefit from net metering. This is a billing arrangement where the solar power system owner gets credit for the excess electricity that their system sends back to the grid. This concept is one of the pivotal aspects that make solar power financially viable for many households and businesses.

Here’s how it works: On sunny days, your solar panels may produce more electricity than you need. Instead of wasting this energy, it is fed back into the power grid for others to use. Your utility company will then credit you for this excess energy at the same rate that you would pay to buy power from the grid. This process effectively “rolls back” your electricity meter, hence the term “net metering”.

The financial benefits of net metering can be significant. In essence, you’re selling your excess power back to the utility company, thereby reducing or even eliminating your electricity bills. In some cases, if your system consistently produces more power than you consume, the utility company might even owe you money at the end of the billing period.

It’s worth noting, however, that the terms of net metering can vary from one region to another, based on the regulations set by local utility commissions. Some utility companies may offer full retail rate credits for excess solar power, while others may offer lower wholesale rates. Therefore, it’s important to understand the specific net metering policies in your area before investing in a solar power system.

Net metering not only makes solar energy more affordable for system owners but also plays a crucial role in promoting the growth of renewable energy. By providing a financial incentive for solar energy production, it encourages more people to install solar panels, which contributes to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.

Increased Property Value

Investing in solar panels can significantly increase the value of your property. A well-installed solar system can be an attractive selling point for potential buyers who are looking to save on their energy bills or are keen to live in an environmentally-friendly home.

Multiple studies have shown a correlation between homes equipped with solar panel systems and higher property values. According to research conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, on average, solar panels add around $4 per watt or $15,000 to the home’s value, considering a typical solar installation of about 3.75 kilowatts. This amount can vary significantly depending on the size of the installation, the cost of electricity in the area, and the local solar market.

Buyers are more willing to pay a premium for a solar home because of the potential energy cost savings. For homeowners, this means that while there is an upfront investment, the cost can be recouped not only through energy savings but also in the potential increased value of the home if they decide to sell.

Furthermore, solar installations are long-lasting, with a lifespan of 25-30 years or more. Therefore, buyers will not only purchase a home but also decades of reduced or even eliminated electricity bills. As more people become aware of the financial and environmental benefits of solar energy, solar homes are expected to become increasingly desirable in the real estate market.

Conclusion: The Financial Power of Solar Energy

Solar energy is more than just an environmentally-friendly power alternative. By lowering electricity bills, offering tax credits and incentives, allowing the sale of excess power, and increasing property values, solar energy can also be a savvy financial decision. With the right planning and considerations, harnessing the power of the sun can indeed save you money and provide a sustainable, renewable energy solution for the future.

As the world becomes more conscious of the need for renewable energy, the financial benefits of solar power become increasingly clear. By investing in solar panels, you’re not just contributing to a greener planet—you’re also paving the way for significant savings and a more sustainable financial future.

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Solgen Power is a solar energy contractor that sells and installs solar for homeowners. Solgen Power has been recognized by INC. 5000 as one of the fastest growing companies in the nation. Solgen Power has grown nationwide and continues to provide excellent customer service to homeowners.

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Copyright © 2022 Solgen Power, All Rights Reserved