5 key things to know about solar affordability
- There are 4 ways to go solar with varying up front and ongoing costs — one doesn’t cost you anything!
- Your credit may impact some of your solar buying options
- You will see a return on your investment if you’re patient
- Solar power costs less than traditional carbon-based electricity systems, so going solar is always cheaper than staying with your electric utility (unless they offer a green-energy program).
- Your monthly outlay will be less than your current average electric bill, no matter how you pay for solar
Want to know if solar panels at home are within your budget?
The answer to this question is almost always yes!
This is because of a new way to get solar installed at home called a Purchase Power Agreement (PPA). We’ll get into what that means in a bit, but for now, yes, most homeowners are eligible for solar power with no up front costs.*
The 4 Ways to Get Solar for Your Home
Quick overview: Going solar is a lot like getting a new car, minus the haggling. You can buy it outright with cash, get a loan, or lease it. Solar has a bonus option of a Purchase Power Agreement which car-buying doesn’t offer.
Technically you have a fifth option — buying the panels and installing them yourself. There are many DIY solar kits for the crafty engineering types who are good with their hands and electricity. If you’re not one of them, read these four ways to go solar at your home.
A couple of potential extra costs
Getting solar panels installed on your home MAY raise your insurance costs. Under many purchasing options, the additional insurance is covered by the solar company itself.
Most power companies charge you a nominal annual fee to stay connected to the grid. We’ve asked around and, so far, the battery storage systems available to homeowners who want to go off the grid entirely rarely are worth the cost, so you’re stuck with a tether of some kind, but that’s probably a good thing. You can look into a diesel generator to handle your power needs at night, but again, we think staying connected to the grid is easier.
If you have a system that generates less than 100% of what you use, you may end up paying your current utility for some electricity. This is sort of a balancing act between not ordering too large of a system and not shorting yourself on solar power production.
* Purchase Power Agreements rely on a concept called Net Metering. Net Metering essentially allows you to sell unused power that you generate back to your energy company (think of it like spinning the odometer backwards). As long as your electric utility allows you to do this, you can participate in a PPA. There are only a few utilities that have put the kibosh on net metering, so most people are good to go with this option.