If you are interested in energy efficiency and green living, you have no doubt contemplated solar energy for your home. Indeed, solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. A solar power system consisting of solar panels is the go-to solution for green living enthusiasts. For many, however, the cost of solar panels has been an issue.
Solar panels are photovoltaic (PV) cells. Basically, they are unique batteries that harness sunlight, transform it into energy, and then send that energy to an inverter, which converts it into electricity to power the home. Installing solar panels can decrease your household’s carbon footprint by an average of 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
However, many homeowners are unsure whether the cost of solar panels will pay off long-term, as well as how it will affect the value of their home. If you are considering solar panels for your home, here are some factors to take into consideration:
How Much Energy do you Use?
You will want to estimate the electrical needs of your home. Electricity is measured in kW, and estimates for a home in the United States place electricity use at around 1 kW per hour. The average electricity price is 10 cents per kW. Each month has 730 hours, which means the estimate for the average US home electric bill is $73. You can use an online energy calculator based on your own appliances, at sites like Save on Energy or Consumers Power, to find a more accurate estimate of your energy needs.
How Many Panels are Required?
The size of a system depends on two things: insolation and how much energy is needed. Insolation is the amount of full sun during a given period of time, and differs depending on the region you live in. In North Carolina, the average amount of full sun hours are: High, 5.05; Low, 4.00; Average 4.71. This places North Carolina at about average efficiency compared to the rest of the country. Again, you will refer to how much energy you use in order to calculate the number of panels. The average solar panel can generate around 10 watts per square foot.
What is the Cost of Solar Panels?
Keep in mind, you will be paying not only for the cost of the panels themselves, but for installation and the electrical system required to prepare your home for utilizing the energy produced. The average cost of solar panels is from $7 to $9 per watt, which means that a 5kW system could cost between $25,000 and $35,000. You may be able to take advantage of incentives offered by your utility company or other sources to offset the cost. Unfortunately, there is no tax credt available to North Carolina homeowners investing in solar energy. In 2015, state lawmakers voted to let North Carolina’s 35 percent tax credit for investment in renewable energy expire.
So is it Worth it?
There are many factors to consider before you take the plunge to invest in solar panels. The very informative website Solar Power Authority provides a wealth of detailed information to help you compare top solar companies, calculate your solar savings, and use their resources to make the best solar decision for your budget. However, if you are considering selling your home within the next several years, the return on investment will be minimal. You will not be able to add the cost of your solar energy system to the asking price of your home.
If you want to look for a home with green features, let our top real estate agents at Real Estate Experts know.