August 7, 2018 Solar Energy Written by Emily Folk
afford solar panels
The reasons people have for switching to solar

energy are endless. Solar panels are silent, can be installed almost anywhere, aren’t an eyesore and make a positive impact on the environment. Even more notably, solar panels can save money.

For people who rack up a high energy bill every month, switching to solar panels can be a saving grace for the wallet. The problem is switching in the first place. The initial installation is expensive, but there are ways around paying a considerable price tag.

1. Lease, don’t buy

If this is your first time diving into solar energy, leasing the panels may be right for you. The best incentive to leasing are no upfront costs, meaning installation is zero-down. Monthly fees will still creep up, but the most significant chunk of the price tag is eliminated right out of the gate. You don’t have to pay for maintenance, and the lease can be transferred if you ever decide to sell your home.

Unfortunately, leasing solar panels means you don’t own them, which means you can’t claim them on your annual taxes. Without getting the federal tax credits, leasing will end up costing around the same amount if you bought your panels. The primary deciding factor is your financial situation.

2. Tax incentives

The thing about renewable energy being good for the environment is everyone wanting you to switch. America’s federal government offers rewards for going solar. Just installing your solar panels can make you eligible for a 30 percent credit on your income tax returns. The government also offers loans to get solar panels set up and mortgages for homes looking to switch.

As time goes on and more people switch, the tax credits will also lower and eventually expire in December of 2021. Other incentives vary by state, utility company and location. High solar ranking states, like Arizona, may receive property tax exemption, waived fees and expedited permits. Looking into your location’s incentives can help with the big decision.

3. The waiting game

As popularity for solar power and other renewable energy grows, prices will continue to decline. The price in of solar cells is already dropping. While the expense remains high for installation, the rewards offered over time still make up the money used.

Unfortunately, being patient may not be foolproof. In 2018, President Trump imposed a tariff on imported solar cells and panels until 2021. Installation costs may rise over the next four years before finally dropping again once the tariffs decrease and eventually expire. However, the tax credit also ends in 2021. Going solar now or later is a hard choice to make without knowing what other changes the future has in store.

4. The payback

A home with a high energy bill will benefit the most from going solar. Coincidentally, the states getting the most sunlight, the hottest states in the nation, are the ones offering higher incentives to switch. Running the air conditioning and getting paid sounds like a win-win situation.

For homes not living in those particular states, there’s still other good news, like increased property values. A home’s value increases $20,000 for every $1,000 reduction in operating costs annually. House’s eventually increased $40,000 in value more than their counterparts. For the next several years at least, property values for homes with renewable energy will only rise.

Find out what’s best for you

If your home doesn’t consume a lot of energy annually and isn’t in a region with a lot of sunshine, switching to solar may be the wrong option for now. While always better on the environment, personal financial situations must always come first.

Eventually, renewable energy will be widespread and normal, but the cost is going to persist until the day comes. For now, making sure solar power is right for you and your home may take extra research.


This is a guest post written by Emily Folk.
Emily is a conservation and sustainability writer.
She is the editor of Conservation Folks, and you can see her latest updates by following her on Twitter.