Thinking about solar?

Solar roofs are popping up more and more around the Monterey Bay. In fact, in the entire US, 2016 was a record breaking year for overall solar capacity – nearly doubling the installations over 2015 (SEIA.org). Solar is beneficial not only as a renewable, clean energy source, but for residential use, it makes a lot of sense financially. Let’s explore this investment and look at the steps followed to install solar on your home.

REDUCE YOUR ELECTRIC BILL AND INVEST IN SOLAR

Installing solar is not only good for the environment; it’s an excellent investment. You can reduce your electric bill and put that saved money away. That cash saved over time will mean significant amounts over the life of the system.

How is it an investment? There are three ways to increase your bottom line with solar. Number one: the energy savings. Let’s run some rough numbers. As an example, if your bill is about $350/month, you could install a system designed to reduce your bill almost 90%. You would be saving about $3,700 per year! Factor in annual increases from PG&E, and your system could be paid off in under 6 years. After payoff, that electricity bill becomes savings per month and adds quickly. A normal warranty on a system panel runs 25 years, but they last as long as 40, so if you divert that savings into your favorite investment vehicle for that period of time, the returns can be astronomical. Anyone with an electricity bill more that $150 is a terrific candidate for solar.

Number two: tax credits. Remember, when you install solar, you probably qualify for a 30% tax credit. If you install the system at the same time as you reroof your home, you have an even greater tax benefit.

Number three: increased home value. That’s an added benefit you may have not thought about. People pay a premium for installed solar. An article written by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concludes that adding solar to your home can increase the value by about $4 watt added. So, for a 7kW system, that’s an increase of $21,000. Over an 11-year period, the report looked at eight states and found that buyers are consistently choosing to spend more for a home already equipped with solar (lbl.gov).

STEPS TO INSTALL SOLAR AT YOUR HOME

1: Contact a local roofing and solar contractor. Using a roofing and solar contractor is important. A solar contractor can install a system, but they will also be installing it right through the roofing. You want to make sure you find the right company with many years of roofing experience, which is important to maintain the warranty of your original roof. And, as mentioned before, if you have a new roof installed at the same time as your solar system, you get an even greater tax benefit.

2: Your contractor will come to your home, survey the site for the best location for panels, locate the junction boxes and check that you have updated wiring suitable for generating electricity. You may even choose to install a ground mounted system, which could be located on a slope above or below your home on the property.

3: After the site survey, you will work with your contractor to discover how much you want to reduce your bill, the size and efficiency of your system, and costs associated with the installation.

4: When you have an agreement with your contractor, plans will be drawn up for the layout of the system and electrical connections, permits will be pulled and installation can start. Installation is not more than a few days with a typical system. Your contractor will also set up a meeting with PG&E to prepare paperwork and interconnection agreements for you to generate your own electricity.

6: Once the panels are installed, your contractor will finalize the paperwork with PG&E and flip the breaker, and you are on your way to energy independence. Remember, with interconnectivity, you are still connected to the grid. You will send your excess to the grid during the day, and draw it back at night, through the process of net metering.

In part II of this solar series, we’ll look into the history of solar, net metering, and we’ll debunk some myths around solar and its benefits.