Before making the decision to install PV, you will want to make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible. While your site assessment will likely include recommendations for efficiency, there is plenty you can do before your site assessment.
- Install LED lighting
- Use Energy Star appliances
- Reduce “phantom loads” by using power strips
- Weatherize your home
- Change electricity usage habits
- For more ideas, read the Department of Energy’s Energy Saver publication here (PDF).
The Price of Solar is declining
The price of solar has seen a precipitous drop over the past several decades, and it keeps coming down.
While the price of electricity continues to rise
Incentives to invest
A Federal Tax Credit of 30% is available for Residential properties and Commercial properties that add renewables by December 31, 2016. Continuation of these tax credits after December 31, 2016 has not been announced yet, and as of now are set to be reduced to a 10% tax credit.
Additionally, The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses in rural America to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements to non-residential buildings and facilities, use renewable technologies that reduce energy consumption, and participate in energy audits and renewable energy development assistance.
Further incentives differ state to state, municipality to municipality, and utility to utility. The best place to find up-to-date information about solar incentives near you is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.
How much does a system really cost?
It depends. It depends on the size of your array, the site itself, the components you purchase, and other variables. But generally speaking, the market rate for residential PV is between $3 and $4 per watt right now. Example: at $4 per watt, if you financed a 5kW system and used no other incentives or rebates than the Federal Tax Credit, it might look like this:
After a $2,000 down payment, the remaining principal on your solar loan would be $12,000.
- Module 1: Trends in Solar PV
- Module 2: Solar Basics
- Module 3: Site Assessment
- Module 4: Affordability of Solar PV
- Module 5: Power Pack Partners
- Module 6: Ready for Solar?