Learn the surprising facts about the benefits and costs of installing solar panels on your home.

Installing solar on the roof of a domestic property will considerably reduce greenhouse gases, and make a concrete difference to your impact on the environment.

CO2 Reduction Facts:

  • The average American household emits over 20 metric tons of CO2 every year.
  • Even a modest sized system on the roof of a domestic or community building will stop over 1700Kg of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
  • Large system can reach up to 14 tons of CO2 per annum and rising according to UK specialists Southern Solar.

As well as doing your bit for the planet, domestic solar power has been proven to dramatically reduce fuel bills.

So why aren’t more of us doing it?

Unfortunately, there is a myth going around that solar is not a wise investment, and is simply too expensive.
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Facts About Solar Energy Costs:

  • Research shows that 85 per cent of people support renewable energy.
  • 97% of homeowners who completed a poll just last year overestimated the cost of solar.
  • Only 3% of poll respondents were aware that the upfront costs of installation could be less than $1000, or even less.
  • Solar prices have dropped in the last three years by a whopping 75%!

Clean energy specialist Justin Gerdes is positive about the growth of the industry but suggests it is being stalled:

“Despite the forces arrayed against it – its perceived high cost, the lack of a price on carbon in much of the world, and concerted efforts by cosseted fossil-fuel incumbents to stifle its rise – solar power is booming”

In a previous post here on acoolerclimate Travis Bradford, president and founder of the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development, highlights how solar is the first real alternative to the giant utility companies that monopolize power:

“Solar is different from other energy technologies in that it delivers energy at the point of use, directly to the end user. That allows it to circumvent the entire supply chain. It’s not another option for a utility, it’s a competitor to a utility — the first time utilities have really had a competitor.”

As such it’s easy to see how solar represents a tangible threat to those big utility firms who clearly may not be eager to promote its increasing affordability and accessibility.

While it’s true that solar may not be a viable option for everyone, and the cost of a system will vary depending on circumstances, location and property size, it is always worth exploring your options – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Federal tax incentives and state schemes

Federal schemes and tax incentives mean that solar PV (photovoltaic) and solar thermal have become much more accessible. According to the US Department of Energy homeowners can offset 30% towards the initial installation with schemes such as the Renewable Residential Energy Tax Credit. In states that offer net metering, the perks are even more attractive. This option can lower the cost for homeowners because it provides a long term return on investment. Extra power generated at periods of peak demand is fed back into the electrical grid for distribution elsewhere so that solar system owners are credited at the average retail electricity rate, thereby further reducing their fuel bills.

Additionally, individual states provide their own schemes, for example, California’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) now offers an incentive that targets low-income housing and individuals. Called The CSI-Thermal Low-Income Program”. While non-profits and community groups may also be eligible for grants and reductions, there are other sources of foundation funding for community housing coops, or residential projects for the elderly that would not otherwise be available to a businesses or domestic properties.

Where do I start?

Do your research. A good place to begin is with this list of America’s top solar installers http://cleantechnica.com/2012/02/01/top-residential-solar-installers/. Reputable solar installers will provide information on Federal and State incentives, and should offer an initial free consultation and quote. With no maintenance and self cleaning parts, a quality solar array should last a lifetime (40 years or more), so you and your family can enjoy free or low cost clean energy and help to reduce greenhouse emissions for generations to come.

Bio

Tara Gould is a freelance writer spreading the word on green issues, clean energy, and green politics. She supports solar company Southern Solar, award winning UK community solar champions.


Sources

[1]http://www.sunrunhome.com/about-sunrun/sunrun-in-the-news/2012-press-releases/new-data-shows-97-of-americans-overestimate-the-cost-of-installing-solar-panels/
[2]http://www.forbes.com/sites/justingerdes/2012/05/24/solar-power-more-competitive-than-decision-makers-or-consumers-realize/

Author: Gould, Tara. A Cooler Climate. 2013.

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