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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Debate Over Implementing Solar Power In Your Home


(Photo by Jeremy Levine Design)

Homeowners now have a myriad of options for switching some, or all, of their power consumption to solar. Solar panel systems have grown in popularity, but whether or not they are smart financially depends on several factors including one’s location, average power consumption, and anticipated time at one’s residence.
In this post, we delve into the details to help you make a decision in the ever-growing world of solar power.

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How Much Solar Costs in Your State
(Infographic via One Block Off the Grid)

There are many states in which you can go solar (full purchase price) for around $10,000. This number depends on a number of factors including state, local, and regional incentives. Looking into your state’s tax breaks and rebates, is a good first step. According to 2011’s numbers, the national average cost is at $17,000.

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What You Could Save Every Month

Your monthly savings with solar depends mainly on the cost of power from your regional utility companies. Places like New York, where electricity is expensive, will give you added monthly savings by switching to solar.

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What You Could Save Over Time

A common worry is that solar panels won’t last long and when investing thousands of dollars into such an energy solution, that is understandable. Most solar panels will last you at least 25-30 years. Your long term savings can be over $20k, after 20 years. In Hawaii, where electricity prices are extreme, one can expect to save approximately $64,000 in 20 years time.

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How Long It’ll Take To Pay For Itself (State by State)

The amount of time it takes for your investment in solar panels to be returned depends on several factors. The biggest factor is how much electricity costs in your state. The more you’re saving each month with solar panels, the quicker your investment will pay for itself. For example, if you live in a state where electricity is cheap, like Alabama, solar panels may not be a good investment. It would be like buying an expensive hybrid car, when gas was .99 cents a gallon. If you know you will be staying in your home longer than the number of years it will take to pay for itself, then solar panels may be an investment you should consider.

Note: These maps are based on averages. And don’t show detail about solar rebates in all the states.
SOURCE: US homeowner solar estimate tool results, 2001. Energy analytics powered by Clean Power Research.

About the Author
Bahram Nasehi is a Vice President and partner at Dulles Glass and Mirror. He is instrumental in the developement and manufacturing of custom cut glass products including wall and bathroom mirrors, vanity mirrors and glass shower doors.

Elena White is the founder and editor of  Life The Green Way, corporate sustainability coordinator at her day job, and a "rurban" wife and mother.  Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter at @Lifethegreenway.