with the idea of conserving energy and using more sustainable materials rather than things like coal and oil. One thing that’s becoming more popular with time is the idea of powering your house with solar panels. It’s a surprisingly easy way to save money on your electric bill while minimizing your carbon footprint.
Before you decide to get panels for your own home, though, make sure you ask yourself some important questions, so you know you’re prepared.
1. Do you have the right weather?
The most important thing you need when you have solar panels is lots of sunlight, so you can take advantage of the energy savings that attracted you to install them in the first place. Do research on your local weather over the past couple years to see what the average rainfall is and how much light you get during each part of the year. If you don’t get enough light, other forms of energy conservation may be the better option.
2. Do you have the right roof?
Some roofs are better for solar panels than others. For one thing, if you think you may need to upgrade your roof in the next few years, it’s not the right time to install panels. Once they’re on, it’s very difficult to get them off to repair damage or replace your roof. Additionally, think about how much shade your roof gets and if it’s at the right angle to catch the most sunlight.
After considering all of this, if you find yourself coming to the conclusion that you might not have a roof compatible with solar panels, you can still cut costs by investing in community solar. By doing this, you’d get a discount on your electricity bill even you live in a place that’s not solar-friendly.
3. What panel option is right for you?
There’s more than one kind of solar panel you can choose from, so before you start shopping, be confident that you know how to evaluate panels properly. This will help you know what kind of quality and efficiency you’re actually putting your money into.
4. How much money will you save?
How much could going solar save you? Look into how your energy bills can decrease, so you know exactly what kind of benefits solar panels would bring to your life. It’s always good to double check before you start spending your money.
5. Which installer should you go with?
Always do more than enough research on the companies around you when you’re ready to go solar. Look up customer reviews, read about their process online and call to ask them specific questions. Also, ask about their install process. Solar panels should be aligned properly, and electrical wiring should be protected from the elements. Hiding it beneath panels adds an extra layer of protection. Don’t forget to ask if they have any hidden installation fees.
6. Will your panels connect to the grid?
Based on where your house is, will the electric companies be able to connect you to the grid? Call them ahead of time to see what their fees are. Check out state laws regarding electricity as well because they may make it take longer to get your money back in savings that you spent on installation.
7. Should you buy or lease?
Depending on your financial situation, you may find that you do better with one option over the other when it comes to buying or leasing solar panels. Take a second to read about the pros and cons of both before deciding officially.
8. What does your contract say?
If you live in a rented building or decide to lease your solar panels, check the contracts of both carefully. Your landlord may prohibit solar panel installation, and the lease might specify what kinds of buildings the panels can power.
9. What is safe panel installation?
Another thing that’s good to know is how the panels will be installed. This way you know exactly what’s going to happen when the process starts and can tell if the business you’ve selected is doing what’s right for your house.
10. How do you keep up with solar panels?
They’re easy to forget about once they’re on top of your house, but solar panels need to be cared for to last a long time. There are some simple ways you can clean your solar panels to increase their longevity and power your house for years to come.
Installing solar panels can be the best choice you make to save money on your electricity bill and decrease your carbon footprint. However, making the purchase is actually a much bigger decision than most people realize, so it’s important know everything you can about the panels before you go ahead and buy them. If you do your research right, you’ll be helping the Earth and putting some extra money in your pocket in no time.
This is a guest post written by Megan Ray Nichols.
Megan Ray Nichols is a science writer and the editor of Schooled By Science. She enjoys discussing scientific discoveries and exploring the world around her. Follow her on twitter @nicholsrmegan