Solar Panels in The Home: Is It The Choice For You?
Green energy is all the rage, and more homes than ever before are currently boasting solar panels. Prices are dropping lower every day, and in some places, we are generating more electricity than we can use from solar power. However, even with such a positive outlook on solar panels, there are some homeowners who still aren't sure about them. After all, they sound like a good investment, but will they really be worth it?
To find your answer, you need to define what "worth it" means to you.
Solar Panels in The Home: Are They Worth The Cost?
Every home is different, and there are a slew of factors that will determine exactly what your solar panel output is. Everything from where your home is located, to the season, to how large your solar panels are will have an effect. Additionally, how much electricity costs in your area will also be a concern since electricity in a place like Hawaii is three times the cost of electricity in a place like West Virginia. However, with those variations in mind, Solar Power Authority has offered some middle-of-the-road calculations.
The average American home uses one kilowatt of electricity every hour, and the average price of that electricity is $0.10. In a month, this adds up to about 730 kWh, or roughly $73. To generate 1kw of electricity from the sun, you need 100 square feet (10 feet by 10 feet) of solar panels. Then, depending on the amount of sun your home receives (which will vary drastically based on what area of the country you live in), you can calculate roughly how many kWh of electricity you generate over a month, and how much power it will save you.
A full array of solar panels typically costs between $25,000 and $35,000. That is more than the cost of the electricity a standard array will produce for your home. To see the benefits, though, it's important to dig a little deeper.
Net Metering, Home Value, and Tax Incentives
Getting the value of your solar panels is more than just the electricity they produce. That is important, but it is far from the only concern a homeowner should be focused on.
For example, there are state and federal tax breaks for homeowners who invest in solar panels. These tax breaks are meant as an incentive, and they can significantly reduce the impact of a solar panel system on a house's budget. Net metering is a specific situation where the local utility company provides a home with a special meter that runs backwards if the house produces more power than it uses. This means none of the electricity a home produces is wasted (what you don't use is fed back into the grid), and that it's even possible for you to become an energy generator, getting a check from the power company if you made more than you used.
Lastly, there's the increased value solar panels add to a home. A bathroom remodeling will make your home look nicer, and a swimming pool costs money to maintain, but solar panels are a home upgrade that actively create something you're going to use every day. Your home is always going to need electricity, and solar panels are always going to be a valuable addition because of that.
While there are other reasons to install solar panels, like self-sufficiency, emergency readiness in case the grid goes out, and environmental conscience so that you're doing your part to cut reliance on fossil fuels, they are a sound investment in your home. And, if you take a step back and look at the big picture, they'll typically pay for themselves quite quickly, under the right circumstances.