Is Residential Solar Power Worth It?

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Category: Home Utilities
Posted on: 02/22/2019
a wide array of solar panels across an orange roof

With solar power becoming an increasingly prevalent source of energy these days, especially amongst industrial and commercial properties, the efficiency of this relatively untapped source of energy has left homeowners wondering if solar power is appropriate for their residential usage. 

The answer isn’t as straightforward as one may believe. There are several factors to consider before committing to transforming your residence to run on solar power instead of traditional means. Through this comprehensive guide, you can determine if residential solar is worth it.

Upgrades, Updates, and Repairs

The difficulty in making the switch to solar energy is addressing your home’s efficiency without it. Not many of us can make the claim that our homes are completely energy efficient, as most homeowners tend to reside in older homes in dire need of energy-wise upgrades.

Old windows, leaky air ducts, poor, decades-old insulation and a shoddy roof are not going to contribute to the effectiveness of solar power, and in fact, these issues will negate the very efforts of solar energy to begin with.

Think of it in these terms: how many solar panels will your house require to perform adequately and optimally? If you take a beat to answer to weigh the possible escape routes that energy generated in your home usually takes, then solar power may not be the best source of energy for your home.

By the time you would have addressed these issues of energy inefficiency like replacing the roof, replacing the windows and installing quality insulation, you’ll still be facing the costs associated with solar panel installation on top of these upgrades.

The roof plays an integral role in solar panel installation and overall energy efficiency. If your roof is in poor condition, the solar panels won’t be effective in terms of energy conservation. Considering the condition and potential replacement of your roof is essential before committing to residential solar, as paneling will require removal before re-shingling or replacement.

Taking panels off a roof prior to having work done can cost a homeowner upwards of $2,000. However, once a roof has been recently shingled or is in generally good condition, solar panel companies can install the panels without causing damage or problems.

Installation and Cost

There’s the question of the cost of the solar panel system to consider as well. Again, based on where you live will indicate the installation and sheer cost of the system, so if your residence is based in Middletown, you’ll want to seek out multiple quotes in the area to put together a picture of what you would be paying for the switch to solar.

Cheap solar panels may be enticing and the easiest way to go solar without shelling out big bucks, but you could be missing out on what you really could be saving.  Solar energy requires high-quality equipment for optimal energy efficiency, and if you choose to go cheap in terms of panels and parts, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice in your potential long-term savings in both energy and money.

The decision to buy or lease your solar panels will impact its long-term value. Naturally, paying upfront will be the ideal situation, but many homeowners turn to financing their solar systems, but this will show a decreased net savings in the long run. Homeowners looking at residential solar options can finance their panel systems with a solar loan or a solar lease.

Research and Quotes

Potential consumers of solar energy must do the groundwork in researching companies and gathering as many quotes as possible. Residential solar is a more viable option when the cost of installing the solar system is reasonable. Solar systems are commonly installed on large commercial or industrial buildings and this of course leads to big-name contractors accomplishing these jobs.

For smaller solar systems in the residential sector, contractors will naturally up-charge the cost of installation and labor. The more quotes a homeowner can seek out the better chance of receiving a fairly-priced solar system installation, especially from contractor companies favoring these smaller jobs.

Potential Incentives and Rebates

New York counties may offer solar incentives and rebates to promote energy efficiency and environmental friendliness, so your home in Middletown may be eligible for one of these inducements.

The federal government offers a solar tax credit, but even further down the line, municipalities, states and even utility companies may have certain promotions for energy consumers to switch to solar.

Lack of Sunlight and Geographical Location

For a Middletown, New York resident, you may be wondering if solar power is at all effective in the depth of the icy, gray winters where the sun is consistently hiding behind looming, snow-infused clouds. Much like the fact that you can still become sun burned during a cloudy day, solar panel systems still perform with effectiveness during these harsh, bone-chilling winters. In fact, in states located in the Northeastern United States, electricity costs are generally higher, so the federal, state, and local governments make a stronger push for solar incentives.

However, for homes beneath the shady trees in Middletown, solar efficiency goes by the wayside. Clouds and winter weather are often no problem for solar systems, but trees in bloom are quite impenetrable by sunlight.

Many homeowners with residences shaded by large trees opt to have these trees removed to make way for solar systems, but there’s the cost of the labor and removal to be considered as well as sacrificing the cooling concealment the tree provides.

Your Current Energy Bill and Its Costs

Of course, the biggest, most compelling factor in making the switch to solar energy is what you’re currently paying for electricity. Learning to understand your energy bill, its charges, and other taxes or surcharges is essential before choosing an alternative source of energy.

For your current electricity usage, you pay your utility company for every kilowatt-hour consumed, based on the going rate. The rate is determined on your geographical location, so Middletown homeowners will have a varied rate in comparison to those with residences in Pearl River.

When going residential solar, you’re installing your own source of energy on the roof of your home akin to a scaled down power plant. Those who benefit the most by turning to solar power are receiving high electricity rates from their utility company. Still, some remain unsure as to whether the switch is worth it in the long run.

For the undecided, there are resources to help configure how much solar can save, such as an online solar calculator, which utilizes local electricity rates for a customized estimate, determining just how quickly your investment will pay for itself.

Ultimately, it comes down to how much you are paying on your current electric bill. The other factors are left on the fringe of this central problem. Energy rates and charges should be determined first before addressing these other concerns.  Installation and the cost of a solar system, whether leased or purchased, is often the second tier of consideration.

Solar systems aren’t cheap, nor should they be, as they power your home and source your energy, but to some homeowners, this cost cannot be entertained. Lastly, there’s the question of how many updates and fixes must be made to make way for the new solar system? Will the cost of these upgrades and repairs be worth the savings of turning to solar energy? 

It’s no easy answer. However, if you feel as if your energy bills have been consistently high, then solar power for your residential needs can be worth the commitment.

Finance Guru

Finance Guru