Solar energy is a buzzword in home improvement and solar panels are a “hot” item to install in a home. Harnessing the sun’s energy is ecologically sound, and saving money doesn’t hurt too much. But while the claim that using solar panels to supply electricity in a home is easily substantiated, with the high costs of purchase and installation, the claim that it saves money is more difficult to prove.
When determining whether or not solar panels are a cost-effective investment, there are several factors to consider. First, what is the sun like where you live? If it shines down pretty often, you’re likely to get a better return on your investment than if it doesn’t. You can use a neat little calculator to assess how much sun you get where you live (see Resource.) Next, what’s the scope of your project? A smaller panel meant for limited use is likely to be very efficient, while a full house outfit will cost much more and take much longer to prove its worthiness.
The government supports the use of solar energy as it preserves our precious, natural resources. You may be able to get a rebate to cover some of the cost of installing solar panels in your home, and your solar panel supplier will be able to direct you toward the appropriate agency and help you complete any necessary paperwork in order to apply.
If you are building a home from scratch, you may be able to bundle the cost of your solar panel system into your mortgages payments. The total cost split into monthly payments over a number of years will make it much easier to swallow. If you are installing a system into an existing home, you may be able to refinance your home loan to add in the solar panel cost or take out an equity line of credit.
Over time, whatever you pay for your solar panel system will almost certainly be paid for by the reduction in your electricity bills. Anecdotal evidence points to a savings for homeowners of 50 to 90 percent in monthly electricity bills. Obviously, the more expensive the system, the longer it will take to see the savings. With full-house solar panel installation running into the mid five digits, it will certainly take a number of years to be paid off. But once it is, you'll have a reduced electricity bill the remainder of time you stay in that house; and if you decide to sell, the system increases the value of your home.
- Solar Panels image by alessbonaventura from Fotolia.com