“Green remodeling might be the buzz lately, but does solar power really make sense for my home? How do I know? Everything I’ve heard about solar power is that it is really expensive to install”

There are many variables involved in the decision about whether solar power is the right option for your home. Here are some of the first things you’ll need to find out:

  • Are there building-code restrictions that prohibit solar panels on your home? These could be state or local building-code specifications.
  • Are there local zoning restrictions that prohibit solar panels on your home?
  • Are there neighborhood or subdivision covenants that prohibit solar panels on your home?
  • If there are such restrictions, have they been successfully challenged by other homeowners?
  • Are solar panels permitted, but restricted in terms of where they can be positioned (such as, for example, on the back side of the roof)? Will the panels be effective in these locations?

These questions will help you determine whether you should even consider solar power for your home. The next thing you need to determine is whether solar power would be effective at your house, due to it’s location and positioning in regard to the sun. You might need help evaluating some of these considerations.

  • Will the planned placement area receive enough sunlight throughout the day, every day?
  • Are there obstructing trees, roof lines, etc?
  • Does the house have adequate wiring to support the system?
  • Can you install appropriate heat exchangers?
  • Could your system convert sunlight during most of the year?
  • Do you live in a cold or hot climate region?
  • Would you be replacing electricity, propane or oil heat, or electric air conditioning?
  • Do local building codes require a supplementary or back-up system?
  • Does your mortgage lender or home insurer require a supplementary or back-up system?
  • Do you have the cash or the financing for the initial cost of the system and installation?

Most recent estimates place the cost of a solar system capable of providing for the power needs of the average-sized home of about 2500 square feet at between $25,000 and $30,000. Available rebates, tax credits and other incentives vary by location, depending upon state policies and utility company incentives. The 30% Federal Tax Credit on a $25,000 system would be $7,650. Other incentives (depending on state and utility company) might include any or all of the following:

  • Real estate/property tax exemption of the added value of the home
  • State income tax credit ($2,500)
  • State rebate program ($1,000)
  • Utility company rebate (at $2.47 per watt of the system installed = $7,410)
  • Sales tax exemption (at 4% = $1,000)

In a state and locality in which significant incentives are available, the initial cost of the system after rebates and credits could be as little as $5,440 to $10,440. After calculating reduced dependence on electricity from the utility company, the total cost of installing the system could reasonably be expected to be recovered in as little as four years.

Does solar power really make sense for my home? Only you can evaluate all of the factors and decide. Because virtually all states require that solar power systems be installed by a licensed professional, calling a certified local installer is probably the best place to start. This contractor will be able to help you understand legal restrictions, assess the appropriateness of your location, and evaluate all of the related costs and anticipated savings for your home.

Some other articles that you might be interested in:

Green Home Improvements That Won’t Break the Bank

Green Home Improvement: Extreme Options

What Are the Five Most Important Energy-Efficient Upgrades for My Home?