Since 2008, hundreds of thousands of solar panels have popped up across the country as an increasing number of Americans choose to power their daily lives with the sun’s energy. Thanks in part to the Solar Energy Technologies Office's investments, the cost of going solar goes down every year. You may be considering the option of adding a solar energy system to your home’s roof or finding another way to harness the sun’s energy. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solar solution, here are some resources that can help you figure out what’s best for you. Consider these questions before you go solar.
HOW CAN I FIND STATE INCENTIVES AND TAX BREAKS THAT WILL HELP ME GO SOLAR?
DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewable energy in the United States. It is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. By entering your zip code, DSIRE provides you with a comprehensive list of financial incentives and regulatory policies that apply to your home. Additionally, an experienced local installer should be able to assist you in claiming any state and local incentives, as well as the ITC.
HOW WILL SOLAR IMPACT THE RESALE VALUE OF MY HOME?
Buying a solar energy system will likely increase your home’s value. A recent study found that solar panels are viewed as upgrades, just like a renovated kitchen or a finished basement, and home buyers across the country have been willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array. Additionally, there is evidence homes with solar panels sell faster than those without. In 2008, California homes with energy efficient features and PV were found to sell faster than homes that consume more energy. Keep in mind, these studies focused on homeowner-owned solar arrays.
When it comes to third-party owned (TPO) systems, data shows that while they add some complexity to the real estate transaction, the overall impacts in terms of sales price, time on market, agreement transfers, and customer satisfaction are mostly neutral. In some cases, TPO systems can even add value.
The PV Value® tool is helpful for both home sellers and homebuyers. It calculates the energy production value for a PV system and is compliant with Uniform Standards of Progressional Appraisal Practice and has been endorsed by the Appraisal Institute for the income approach method. Make sure your appraiser uses this tool to get the most accurate estimate of your PV system’s value.
IS SOLAR SAFE?
Absolutely! All solar panels meet international inspection and testing standards, and a qualified installer will install them to meet local building, fire, and electrical codes. Also, your solar energy system will undergo a thorough inspection from a certified electrician as part of the installation process.
WHAT ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF SOLAR?
Using solar power instead of conventional forms of energy reduces the amount of carbon and other pollutants that are emitted into the environment. Reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere translates into less pollution and cleaner air and water.
WHAT DOES [INSERT SOLAR LINGO] MEAN?
Confused by insolation, inverter, and irradiance? Consider the solar energy glossary your handy guide to all the solar lingo.
WHERE CAN I FIND OTHER RESOURCES TO LEARN ABOUT GOING SOLAR?
Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power – In an effort to make going solar as effortless and streamlined as possible, the Solar Energy Industries Association developed this guide to inform potential solar customers about the financing options available, contracting terms to be aware of, and other useful tips.
A Homeowner’s Guide to Solar Financing: Leases, Loans and PPAs – This guide from the Clean Energy States Alliance helps homeowners navigate the complex landscape of residential solar system financing. It describes three popular residential solar financing choices and explains the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as how they compare to a direct cash purchase.
Solar PV Project Financing: Regulatory and Legislative Challenges for Third-Party PPA System Owners– Third-party owned solar arrays allow a developer to build and own a PV system on a customer’s property and sell the power back to the customer. While this can eliminate many of the up-front costs of going solar, third-party electricity sales face regulatory and legislative challenges in some states and jurisdictions. This report details the challenges and explains alternatives.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Encouraging Solar Development through Community Association Policies and Processes – This guide, written for association boards of directors and architectural review committees, discusses the advantages of solar energy and examines the elements of state solar rights provisions designed to protect homeowner access to these benefits. It then presents a number of recommendations associations can use to help bring solar to their communities.
Delaware Goes Solar: A Guide for Residential Customers – While you may not live in Delaware, this guide has practical information for people in all 50 states who would like to go solar.
A Residential Customer Guide to Going Solar: Duke Energy Carolinas Version – This guide, intended for North Carolina residents, is designed to help people take a larger measure of control over their energy production and energy future through solar.
Selling into the Sun: Price Premium Analysis of a Multi-State Dataset of Solar Homes – This report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds that home buyers are consistently willing to pay premiums of approximately $15,000 for homes that have solar across various states, housing and PV markets, and home types.
SEIA Residential Lease Disclosure Form – This form for solar energy leasing companies will help consumers better understand the terms and costs of their solar leases. The form is also designed to help consumers choose among competitive providers.