The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began sending out stimulus checks earlier this month, providing much-needed cash to a country hit hard by both the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re fortunate enough to not need the cash right away, and are weighing your various options for what to do with the check, you may have encountered other articles telling you how you should spend this cash. We’re not going to do that: whether you use the money to buy something special, put it away for a rainy day, donate it to a worthy cause, or convert the check into twelve-hundred dollar bills to turn your room into a snow globe, we won’t judge!
What we would like to do, though, is lay out the case for solar as one of the best and safest investments you can make right now, as well as present a few worthy solar-related causes to help narrow down your list of who to donate to.
#1. Solar is good for your wallet (and the environment!)
Many Americans are currently practicing social distancing and working remote–EnergySage employees included! If you, like us, have been spending more time at home, you may end up with more expensive utility bills: it’s bound to happen when you’re powering your laptops, TVs, and lights with electricity from your home instead of electricity from your office.
Saving money right now is more important than ever, and for most, a home solar panel system is one of the best and most effective ways to save on electricity costs. With solar, you can get rid of the majority of your electricity bill for more than 25 years, saving tens of thousands of dollars in the process.
When you generate your own electricity, you’re not only saving money, but also reducing your use of fossil fuels and shrinking your carbon footprint. The average residential solar panel system eliminates three to four tons of carbon emissions each year, which is equivalent to planting 100 trees annually – can you think of a better way to achieve this much of a positive impact on the environment? (We can’t!)
#2. Solar is a safe investment opportunity
It’s no secret that stock markets are experiencing unprecedented volatility right now. You may have the appetite to risk your stimulus check on trying your luck in the market, but if you’re looking for a more stable, predictable investment opportunity, solar is the way to go.
A solar panel system can provide you with consistent annual returns of 10 percent or more throughout the 25+ year lifetime of the system. Importantly, by generating your own renewable electricity, you’re further protecting yourself from any unpredictable fluctuations in electricity prices in the future.
#3. Going solar helps support local jobs
Many industries have been hit hard from the impacts of COVID-19; solar is no different. In a recent survey, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) found that 55 percent of solar workers have experienced layoffs or salary cutbacks during this pandemic. Investing your money in a solar installation will help support the industry and further expansion of renewable energy.
Best of all, some of the most experienced and reputable solar installation companies are small, local businesses that employ your neighbors directly: giving them your business will have a real, tangible impact on your local economy!
#4. Solar increases property values
Studies have shown that a solar panel system can increase your home’s property value by an average of 3-4 percent, putting extra money in your pocket should you decide to sell your home. Plus, most states offer a solar property tax exemption so that you won’t end up paying more in property taxes after you install; the same doesn’t hold true for most other home improvement projects.
#5. Solar can help during tax season
In case you missed it, the federal government provides a tax credit for purchasing a home solar panel system. The solar investment tax credit (ITC) allows you to deduct 26 percent of your solar costs from what you owe in taxes. Because the incentive is a tax credit, rather than a deduction, you need to have sufficient tax liability in order to take advantage. For those who can benefit, this incentive typically means more than $6,000 in savings.
Unfortunately, the tax credit is winding down: it decreases to 22 percent in 2021, before expiring for residential systems in 2022. So, if you want to claim this incentive before it disappears, make sure to get started on your project sooner rather than later.
Considering donating? Here are some worthy solar causes
If you happen to be considering donating your stimulus check, you may be overwhelmed by your options. There are so many good and worthy causes that could use the help financially now (and always!), that it can be hard to know where to start. To narrow down the list, here’s a quick rundown of some solar and clean energy advocacy organizations that deserve your consideration:
- Vote Solar – The country’s leading solar advocacy organization, Vote Solar operates nationwide at both the local and federal level to “make solar mainstream”.
- Environment America – Another national clean energy advocacy organization, Environment America has been leading the charge for 100% renewable laws in statehouses across the country. (See Virginia’s new policy for recent successes!)
- Climate Xchange – A Boston-based organization (like us!) that is fighting for carbon pricing throughout the country.
Find out how much you can save on EnergySage
Wondering what kind of returns you can see with solar? Register on the EnergySage Marketplace to compare custom quotes from local installers. Each quote you receive will include cost and savings information specific to your property. If you’d prefer to start with an instant estimate of solar costs and savings, try our Solar Calculator.