Home Solar Panels Increase Home Values, Energy Independence
Is Solar for You?
An increasingly popular and affordable option, going solar may be for you if your roof:
- Is less than 15 years old
- Faces south and has very little shade
- Is not made of slate or clay tiles
Growing interest in solar power centers on its value as an investment – in the environment and in your property. Solar cuts down on utility usage (and related fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions) while giving you cheaper energy and boosting your home’s value.
What You Should Know About Solar.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels on your roof turn sunlight into electrical power that you can then use as electricity. Here’s how it works: Panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity that an inverter then converts into the alternating current (AC) electricity that powers all your appliances.
A bi-directional, or net, meter continually measures your home’s power usage and your solar system’s power generation. When your solar power system produces more electricity than your home is using, your net meter will alert your utility company to give you credits. At night and on days when your home uses more electricity than your solar system is producing, you’ll use up those credits and draw electricity from the power grid. Think of the meter like a bank: It tracks your deposits and withdrawals, and when you’ve got an overdraft, that’s when you start paying the utility company.
- Rooftop space. On average, it takes 100 square feet of roof space to accommodate solar panels that generate one kilowatt. Most residential systems are between three and six kilowatts, meaning 300 to 600 unobstructed square feet of roof space are needed for PV panels. To put that in context, 600 square feet is the amount of space needed to park about four cars.
- Lifespan. Most home solar power systems last between 25 and 35 years, and there’s no maintenance needed. Rain and melting snow keep the panels clean and operating efficiently.
- Installation. Each house is a little different, but the typical installation takes two to three days. After the panels are installed, your town or city electrical inspector must sign off on your system, and you’ll need an interconnection approval from your utility company to connect your system to the grid. (From start to finish, the solar power system process can take four to six months.)
- Buy or lease? Buying requires an upfront investment, and you can start saving money immediately by taking advantage of the various incentives and rebate programs available to you. You also get a warranty on your panels. If you lease, you don’t have to worry about maintaining, repairing or insuring your panels. You also buy energy at a lower rate than if you received it from the electric companies, so you save money right away.
Solar and the Next Step Living Difference.
Think of Next Step Living as your general contractor to help you solarize your home. One of our solar advisors will:
- Inspect your roof and electrical system and review your electricity consumption
- Design a system to meet your specific needs
- Estimate your potential energy and financial savings
- Discuss financing options as well as available rebates and incentives; Massachusetts residents must get a no-cost home energy evaluation, which we can provide, in order to take advantage of state-sponsored financial incentives called SRECs, or Solar Renewable Energy Certificates. That evaluation must be completed either during the two years before your installation, or after the installation and before submitting your SREC application is submitted. There also are state and federal tax rebates for installing a solar system.
With our whole-home approach, we can also repair or replace your roof as part of your solar project. It’s cheaper and less time-consuming to address any roof issues before PV panels are installed.
The Impact of Solar.
By solarizing your home, you’re investing in your future while becoming more energy-independent today since you’ll:
- Save up to 25 percent annually on your utility bill (and avoid unpredictable rate hikes that average 6 percent).
- Increase the resale value of your home. For every $1,000 annual reduction in your utility costs, the value of the home increases by an estimated $20,000. Here’s another way to look at it: Homeowners recoup 97 percent of the investment they make to go solar while those who upgrade their kitchen get back about 60 percent of their investment. Additionally, in Massachusetts, your solar system is exempt from your property tax valuation and won’t increase your taxes for 20 years.
- Cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. A solar PV system that provides about half of a household's electrical use eliminates CO2 emissions equivalent to operating two fossil-fuel burning cars for almost 30 years.