Whether you’re Democrat or Republican, there’s something we can all cross party lines to agree on and unite against – it is too hot out. Forget current events, th...
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by Lee Tessier
on Thursday, August 11th, 2016 at 12:06pm.
Whether you’re Democrat or Republican, there’s something we can all cross party lines to agree on and unite against – it is too hot out. Forget current events, the sun is the enemy now. We can see it taking its toll on our energy bills in the fight to keep from melting. But what if we could use it for good? What if it’s finally time to look into solar power and take advantage of these long summer days?
It might seem like you’re seeing more and more solar systems on your neighbors’ roofs. If you’re not, you might be soon – with tech getting better and longevity of the panels going up, a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon. Even the Maryland locations for businesses like Staples, Verizon, and IKEA are hooked on sunshine. As of last year, Maryland is ranked 11th in terms of the amount of solar energy we utilize, and we’re expected to go up to 10th around 2020. That means that in five years Marylanders will have installed 1,766 Megawatts worth of solar electric capacity. Now, keep that amount of time in mind – five years.
The big thing keeping a lot of people from taking the plunge is money. Depending on things like the amount of panels you want and how up to date your tech is, installing solar panels can run anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000. I calculated my own purchase and ended up at $37,957! That’s enough for a lot of things – a few college tuition payments, a new BMW, several trips to Europe... The good news, though, is that prices are dropping pretty steadily – and by 2020, we’re supposed to see a 40% drop. But when you look at that huge price and factor in things like tax credits and savings on your BGE bill, that number starts to drop. In fact, the time it takes to pay off that almost $38,000 purchase ends up being, wait for it, five years. In less than the time it takes to pay off a car, I’d be making money off of my solar system and our state will have moved up to the 10th most energy-aware in the country!
As it’s becoming more affordable, solar power is starting to be the new kitchen or bathroom as an investment in your home. This isn’t just something that’s showing up in your electric bill though – a solar system adds to your home’s selling power just as well as some of the most popular home renovation projects. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that homes can appreciate 17% higher and sell 20% faster if they have solar technology. It’s also been estimated that you can increase your home’s resale value by more than $5,000 per kilowatt added (the average system is 3.1KW). But, unlike a new kitchen or home office, solar systems are exempt from property taxes in many states including Maryland.
If you choose not to buy though, leasing means that you can start saving right away. Going back to my calculations, I could end up saving over $3,000 my first year and upwards of $75,000 by the end of my solar system’s life. But even when saving that money sounds a lot better than it going to your electric company, it takes a high credit score to lease solar panels – high enough that it might cause you trouble when selling. Depending on your contract and their credit, possible home buyers may be ineligible to take over payments. That’s not even to mention unwilling! This can narrow your applicant pool down, delay selling, and maybe even cost you money if you have to pay out through the end of your contract.
The important thing in going green is to figure out how this system fits in with your home, lifestyle, and plan for the future. Solar power is hot now, and the market reflects that. And let’s not forget, a home office probably won’t bring any bills down. But like any big purchase, shop around and individualize your buy before dropping a couple thousand dollars.