Home Solar Panels an Amazing Return on Investment for a Sustainable Future

Residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems can run the gamut from a single solar panel delivering about 225 watts, to multiple panels producing 12,000 kilowatt hours (kWh), or more than enough to meet one hundred percent of the needs of the average, energy-hungry American home.

The economic benefits of home solar energy are both short- and long-term. Even with installation costs and peripheral supplies like an inverter (which converts the DC power from a solar PV system to the AC power your home needs), the price of a solar energy system has fallen to an all-time low of about $59,000 installed, as compared to 2001 costs (adjusted for inflation) of more than $86,000. This is based on a per-watt cost of $6, as compared to $8 or $10 a mere decade ago.


Add to that the 30-percent federal tax credit, which no longer has a ceiling, and various state, local and regional (utility-based) incentives, and that $59,000 could plummet to about $29,000.


 Solar Costs, Savings and ROI

In New Jersey,for example, a 10 kilowatt system, costing $59,500 and reduced by the 30 percent federal incentive, costs about $41,150. The system also saves $130 a month in electricity costs, and generates an additional $700 or so in SRECs. Deduct that, and your system not only has a payback time of just over four years, but returns almost $28,000 on your investment in the first year.

In California, the situation is even better. Add the 20 percent state rebate to the federal tax credit, throw in municipal and utility-based solar incentives and you can save up to 45 percent of a system. To determine savings in your state, you can visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), which is so far the most comprehensive catalog of incentives available.

For those confounded by charts, details and arcane terminology, Solar Power Rocks is an equally valuable solar resource, and you can search lists of states by particular types of incentives. If you live in a state with net metering calculated on Time of Use (TOU), you can even generate expensive electricity during peak demand and offset it with the cheaper electricity that you use in the early morning and at night.

 Solar Increases the Value of your Home

Last in the list of cost benefits is the fact that a residential solar PV system can improve the value of your home. According to the (American) Appraisal Institute, a solar system increases the value of your home by $20 for every dollar of energy you save per year, not to mention the value of the system itself, which has an estimated quarter-century lifetime.

Beyond cost, the societal benefits of solar power are its emission-free status and the fact that it doesn’t pollute air, water or land. In fact, while emissions from other power sources like coal, oil and gas produce climate changing greenhouse gases (GHGs) like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxides, ozone, airborne particulates (sulfates, mercury) that cause or exacerbate heart problems and asthma, even mercury, which can cause birth defects and seriously damage a child’s ability to learn and remember – solar energy produces no pollutants.

 Solar for a Sustainable Future

Lastly, the installation of a solar energy system, in any size, is a reminder to ourselves that we are not the “last generation”, and we have no right to use resources as though they were unlimited. In other words, home solar energy is a commitment to sustainability, loosely defined as using the earth in such a fashion that it remains equally usable to future generations.

What better reason could there be?

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