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The advantages of solar energy
We’ve all heard a lot about solar power home improvements. In the last four or five years in particular, solar panels have become increasingly popular as a go-to alternative energy source. It’s amazing how, after technical fits and false starts, the conversion of the sun’s radiation into power through photovoltaic and silicon solar cells has truly caught on.
What happened to make Americans embrace solar energy? Falling installation and operation costs certainly have something to do with it. Solar panels also shrank in size, becoming more practical for home use. Combine this with affordable financing on home loans and generous tax credits, and you begin to see why solar looks so appealing.
If you’re thinking of investing in solar power, but need some help making the decision, we’ve put together a list of the advantages that come with using the sun as an energy source. Here are five factors to consider:
Reduced energy costs
We’ll discuss the most obvious advantage first. The amount of money you save by switching to solar depends on the size of your system (i.e. how many panels you install) and your energy usage. Energy bill savings are almost immediate. You even have the opportunity to be paid for the excess energy you produce and return to the power grid through net metering, offered through public electric utilities.
Clean, renewable source of power
One day, about 5 billion years from now, our sun will become a red giant. Until then, solar power is a limitless, renewable energy source. Unlike with fossil fuels (gasoline, we’re looking at you), it’s impossible to run out of solar energy because it is constantly being replaced. In fact, if just 0.02 percent of all sunlight were properly captured, it would be enough to instantly replace all of our other energy systems. Cool, right?
The upfront cost of purchasing a solar power system is what most concerns many who consider it. Residential systems typically run between $15,000 and $40,000, though the average is closer to $20,000. When incentives, increased property value and electricity savings are calculated, however, savings can equal upward of $60,000 or more in some states over the course of 20 years. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most solar systems pay for themselves in five years or less.
How many times over the last few years have you had to pay an electrician to repair or replace circuit breakers or blown fuses? Probably too often. With solar energy, frequent maintenance isn’t required. Most solar panels come with 20 to 25 year warranties, and beyond a good cleaning one or twice a year, you don’t have to really do anything to ensure your system is working properly.
Government tax credits
Everybody likes to save money. Why not do it through solar energy? Homeowners who install solar-electric systems by the end of 2019 may qualify for federal subsidies of up to 30 percent through the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. Some states (like California, for instance) offer additional discounts. Check with tax experts to confirm which credits apply to your situation.