Over the past few years, solar panels have gone from a rare sighting to a common occurrence on rooftops across America. Thanks to the financial and environmental benefits of installing solar panels, this renewable energy technology shows no signs of slowing down. Here are five facts you may not know about going solar.
1. Installing solar has never been cheaper – and costs are still falling
The solar industry is getting more efficient in both manufacturing solar equipment and installing panels, which is good news for solar shoppers. Thanks to consistent advances in technology and more efficient installations, the cost of going solar fell by nine percent over the past year alone. Even better, the average EnergySage Solar Marketplace shopper broke even on their solar purchase in just seven years. As conventional energy prices increase, solar will become an even better investment than it already is.
2. Utility policies mean that you can get credit for your excess solar power
Utilities in almost every state make it possible for homeowners to get the most out of their solar panel installations through a program known as net metering. When your solar panels produce more energy than you can use on-site, the extra kilowatt-hours (kWh) are sent back to the grid. In exchange, you receive credits on your electric bill. Then, when you use more energy than your solar panels are producing, you can draw down on your credits instead of having to pay the utility for electricity.
Thanks to net metering, you can effectively “bank” your extra solar power to use at night, when it’s cloudy, or whenever your panels aren’t operating at peak production. As a result of net metering, you don’t need a battery, and you don’t have to stress about perfectly matching your home’s energy use to your solar panel system’s production.
3. Your home insurance policy can protect your panels
While solar panel costs are definitely falling, installing them still costs money, and you’ll want to ensure they’re protected in the unlikely event they get damaged. Luckily, when you install solar panels on your roof, they are typically considered part of your home, which means that they are covered as part of a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. (Note: every insurance policy is different – be sure to confirm with your insurance agent that your solar panels are included.)
4. In many states, HOA policies cannot prevent a solar installation
If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association (HOA), you may have already gone through the experience of getting approval for various alterations to your property. Thanks to solar access laws in many states, HOAs are limited in the restrictions they can put on your solar installation.
Your HOA does still have the right to place some restrictions on how you install solar on your property for aesthetic reasons (such as requiring that panels are mounted low to the roof, or prohibiting ground-mounted solar). However, if your state has a solar access law, your HOA cannot legally prohibit you from installing solar on your property.
5. Solar panels are extremely durable, and require almost no maintenance
Solar panels may be made of glass, but you don’t have to worry about them being damaged by inclement weather. Panel manufacturers conduct rigorous tests to make sure that your panels will resist falling hail and strong winds, and real-world experience has shown that solar panels can withstand intense weather conditions.
In fact, solar panels are practically a “set it and forget it” home improvement. They require little to no maintenance over their lifetime – as long as you live in an area where it rains occasionally, you don’t even need to wash them. Considering that they save you tens of thousands of dollars over their lifetime, why wouldn’t you consider going solar?
The best part of going solar – it’s easy!
The environmental and financial benefits of going solar make your decision a no-brainer. Tools like the EnergySage Solar Marketplace make it easy to find the right solar option for you, at the right price. On EnergySage, you can find pre-vetted solar installers near you and compare all of their offers side-by-side to find the best deal on a long-lasting, sustainable, and reliable solar energy system.
This article originally appeared on Mother Earth News.