Installing solar panels may seem like a decision that only “tree-huggers” and environmental extremists would make, but this is far from the truth. In reality, solar panels can actually help you to save quite a bit of money, more than making up for the cost of the panels and installation. This makes them perfect for any homeowner who lives on a budget, who is saving for their future, or who is conscientious about spending — in other words, virtually anyone who owns their own home.
Of course, the biggest advantage to installing solar panels in your home is the reduced utilities bill. You can use solar energy to heat your water, and even to provide electricity for your home, reducing or even eliminating your electric bill, depending on the size of your solar power system. The more solar panels and the larger batteries you have in your system, the more power you will produce, and the less you will have to depend on your local utility company for power.
Generally, solar panels are set up as a supplement to your current power system. For most people, that means that your power needs will draw from your solar power system first, and from your utility company second. In this scenario, your utility company will therefore serve as a backup, for instance, during seasons when you have fewer sunny days, or when your power needs spike temporarily. However, if you make more power than you need, the utility company essentially buys the excess from you, which will reduce your bill even farther.
Therefore, although installing a solar power system represents a large up-front cost, your reduction in utility bills over the next few years more than make up for the cost of the solar panels and installation. Depending on how much you spend on the system, and how wisely you design it, you could find yourself spending next to nothing on your monthly power bill.
There is one more thing to consider, when looking at the ways your solar panels will save you money: tax rebates. Currently, if you install a solar power system in your home, you will be able to get a rebate for up to 30 percent of the cost back on your taxes. This means if you installed solar panels in 2010, you will be able to claim the tax break when you file your 2010 taxes this spring; and if you install a system this year, in 2011, you will be able to claim the rebate next spring, when you file your 2011 taxes. For those of you who calculate your taxes and be sure to only have as much taken out as needed, this may actually mean more money in your pocket on every paycheck this year.
Obviously, the environmental concerns, though convincing for many people, are not the only factor to be considered in your decision to install solar panels. True, solar energy is cleaner than the power provided by your utility company, and solar panels can help you to reduce your carbon footprint in a big way. But unlike many green practices, which allow you to do your part for the environment in exchange for a higher cost of living for yourself and your family, installing solar panels can actually help you to save money in the long run. And that is the deciding factor for many families!
James Rice is a freelance writer for SunRun. SunRun is the simple and affordable option for homeowners who want to switch to home solar power. SunRun pioneered affordable solar panels with the first residential power purchase agreement in 2007, and is the best at it today.