Couple holding tablet showing home with solar

What can be realistically achieved with buying residential solar panels for your home in 2018?

Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular, not the least of which because it reduces our environmental footprint quite significantly. The installation of solar panels for home or business premises also delivers other benefits, ranging from the financial through to the altruistic. They aren’t cheap, however, so there’s often a toss-up over whether it’s worth the outlay to install a system.

We take a look at what you can realistically expect to achieve by purchasing and installing a solar panel system in your home in 2018.

Will Installing Solar Panels Reduce My Utility Bills?

The high cost of utilities is always a primary factor in the decision to install solar panels for home use. This is why you see the highest rates of solar installation in states like California and Massachusetts as the price of utility supplied electricity is highest in these states.

How much can you save by installing solar panels on your home in 2018?

Savings depend on the cost of energy in your state, as well as the number of direct hours of daily sunlight you get on average each year.

The size and angle of your roof are also important, but on the whole, the reduction in utility bills can go up to around $1,500 a year for a typical free standing family home with fairly typical energy usage, even more if you are a large.

This solar savings calculator shows a 6 kW installation in Massachusetts costing $13,818 (after claiming the current 30% solar tax credit) can deliver savings of $30,523 over a 20-year period.

How Does Net Metering Work and How Will It Help Me?

One of the reasons for the sizeable reduction in energy costs is that many systems are able to generate and store solar electricity for later use. After the home draws enough energy for your family’s requirements, the net metering option allows you to feed surplus energy back to the grid for credits, which offset your costs even further. Residential electricity increased by 34 percent between 2005 and 2015, according to the Institute for Energy Research. While net metering benefits vary between different parts of the country, utility companies are in some instances paying up to 300 percent for electricity generated by the free market. This offsets some of the cost of energy, to the point that homes with solar systems often generate more than they use. That results in a credit at the month end, instead of a debit.

Can I Expect to Earn Solar Panel Tax Credits and Rebates?

This benefit is also finance-related, and homeowners are often surprised at just how sizeable it can be. Provided you pay upfront for installing your solar panels for home use, you’ll be eligible on filing for a federal tax credit of a full 30 percent of the cost of equipment and installation. That means a saving of $4,500 on a $15,000 system. Then there are also state and local rebates and incentives, as well as the solar Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) you could qualify for. And if you prefer a no-money-down option, you can usually find an installer who will work with you to achieve it.

How Will Solar Panels for Home Use Increase My Resale Value?

Home improvements typically result in a higher resale value, which applies only if you purchase and own the system outright. In the event that you do, however, home appraisers can include the system in the PV Value Tool they use to determine current value at the time of appraisal. This amount is then added to the valuation of the home. A study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBL) indicates that homes with solar panels usually sell for higher amounts because they attract a “solar premium” price. Most buyers are willing to pay more for a home with solar panels than one without. Solar systems also increase the curb appeal of homes, which has been proven to have an effect on both speed of the sale and the price.

Will Installing a Solar System Provide Greater Home Comfort?

Green upgrades such as the installation of solar panels for home use improves levels of comfort for the residents, especially those with health challenges that require stable environment and temperature. The addition of solar to the home’s energy supply increases the efficiency of both heating and cooling systems while ensuring energy security in the event of heavy usage. Combined with the use of passive solar options such as window double-glazing, attic insulation and the use of natural light for warming, a fully solar home could be ready for any situation.

Energy Security

Secure energy supply can be a vital factor in the life of someone with special health needs, for whom a power outage could be potentially deadly. Families living in hurricane alley, for example, run the risk of malfunctions anytime there is a major wind blowing. The installation of an onsite solar energy system provides the reassurance that even during an extended outage caused by natural disaster, terrorism or other infrastructural problems, your family will have lights, water, and security systems in place. For patients requiring oxygen or other mechanized treatments, being without power could be life-threatening.

What's the Overall Return on Investment I Can Expect from Solar?

The use of clean, pure, and unlimited power to generate electricity is a return on investment that is second to none. As you see above, however, it doesn’t stop there. Homeowners who install solar panels for home use can expect to not only receive a sizeable piece of their investment back at the time of tax filing, but a significantly higher return based on utility savings and net metering. At the same time, they can enjoy clean, secure energy that operates independent of any other infrastructure, saves the planet, and helps to support power generation in the region. Realistically, many of the benefits of installing solar panels for home are long-term. Whether you choose a DIY option or a fully installed system, it's a big decision to take and should not be done lightly. There are some quick wins, however, which you'll begin enjoying immediately, so don't wait any longer—get an estimate today.