You’ve been thinking about how to make your home more energy efficient and what investing in a solar panel system entails. Federal tax breaks for solar panels ends in 2021, could this be the time? Here are 9 things to consider before pulling the trigger.
1. Does the home have solar potential? A common misconception is that solar panels only work in hot climates. To get an idea about your roof’s potential, you can enter your address at Google Project Sunroof, or by looking at maps from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
2. What are your current utility bills? Solar panels typically pay off in 8 years. However your current utility charges also reflect inefficient appliances and lack of insulation. Make sure to update your appliances, and insulation so you don’t pay for an oversized solar system.
3. Think ahead. Do you plan on moving in the next few years? If you lease the system, you’ll need to buy the system before moving, terminate the lease or persuade the new homeowner to assume the lease.
4. Determine a baseline by using a home energy monitor such as Sense Solar to find out your energy hogs before installing solar panels
5. Consider the financing and payoff. Solar panels are an investment that you want to have a payoff. Taking advantage of the current federal incentive can make a big impact. However leasing is not always short term. So you need to weigh advantages of buying or leasing. There are also solar-specific loans and resources available. Do the math.
6. Storage or no storage? Storage is still a premium option, but the prices are dropping. Consider if you have frequent disruptions in electricity from storms or downed power lines. Storage can get you through that. Also, batteries can store energy on cloudy days.
7. Once you have decided to install solar panels, identify at least 3 providers. Do your research, check online, get word of mouth from neighbors, and then ask for online quotes. Next ask the providers to visit your home and get you a final quote. Make sure any cost to upgrade your roof is included
8. Once you have 2 or 3 final estimates, ask more questions. Will the provider install the system or use subcontractors? Are the installers licensed and bonded? Can the contractor explain all the components of the system to you? Who files the permits? Will they help you file for any rebates or tax incentives? What is the warranty? Who does the maintenance?
9. And finally, be patient. You need to do due diligence and feel comfortable with your decision. It may take a few weeks or more to get the job permitted, and all the paperwork sorted out.

From a feature article written by Brandon Doyle