The cost of installing solar panels on a home has dropped dramatically over the past decade. Is it time for your home to run on sunshine? Here are some pros and cons to consider.
1. Pro: Demolish your electric bills
Obviously by capturing free energy from the sun, you'll pay less in your utility bill. In some states, you can even earn money back by selling the unused energy your panels generate to the utility company in the form of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).
2. Con: Upfront cost
While installation and materials are more affordable than ever, it might take up to seven years for the system to pay for itself through the money you save. Fortunately, there are considerable tax breaks, rebates and solar-specific loans available to help homeowners get started. The federal investment tax credit allows you to deduct 30 percent of the cost of your system from your taxes. You can search for state programs on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency®.
3. Pro: Save the planet
Generating energy from fossil fuels emits harmful carbon dioxide and methane that contributes to global warming – using solar panels for power does not. And unlike other energy sources, solar power doesn't require water to process.
4. Con: Doesn't work for every roof
Some roofing materials used in older homes, like slate or cedar tiles, make it difficult for installing panels.
5. Pro: May increase your home's value
Solar panels can increase the value of your home, according to research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, part of the Department of Energy.
6. Con: Maintenance costs
Insurance, cleaning, repairs. As with anything, solar panels come with their own additional costs. Wondering how much energy solar panels might be able to generate in your part of the country? Check out this address-based calculator from the Department of Energy.
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