Thanks to the desire of individuals to start doing a better job of protecting the planet and the variety of tax breaks available to homeowners who make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, there has never been a better time than the present to “go green.”
From implementing rain barrels to capture runoff from roofs to installing energy-efficient windows and doors to reduce the costs of heating and cooling homes, there are many ways to make your residence more environmentally friendly. One of the simplest and most effective ways to go green is to utilize solar panels on your property. When used correctly, solar panels can absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity, helping to reduce—or even replace entirely—your need to rely on traditional methods for powering your home.
Although solar panels were first invented nearly two centuries ago, when in 1839 Alexandre Edmond Becquerel first discovered the photovoltaic effect that explains how sunlight can generate electricity, the development and use of solar panels didn’t become popular until the middle of the 20th century. The efficiency and popularity of solar panels have grown exponentially in the past several decades, and with the upfront costs of installing such systems on your property decreasing significantly in the past several years, thousands of homeowners are opting for solar options each year.
Whether you’re considering going green and installing solar panels on an existing property—or you’re building a brand-new custom cottage and find yourself wondering if solar panels will be a good fit—the following information about the benefits of solar panels will help you decide if switching to solar will work for you.
- Clean Energy: The most obvious and important benefit of bringing solar panels to your property is the fact that these products produce clean energy with no negative effects on the environment. Because the panels absorb sunlight and transform it into electricity that can be used for power, you will no longer be reliant on the use of fossil fuels—such as coal, oil and natural gas—which emit harmful gases and have the potential to leak or spill, contributing to both pollution and global warming.
- Renewable Option: Another key benefit of powering your home with solar panels is that solar power is a renewable source of energy. Unlike the finite sources of fossil fuels that power traditional electricity today, solar power will remain an option indefinitely because it derives its “fuel” from the sun. Although the exact timeframe is a hotly contested issue, many scientists argue that if we continue at our current rates of usage, the world’s reserves of finite fossil fuels could be depleted by the end of the 21st century.
- Reduced Costs: While promoting green energy solutions is undoubtedly a reason many people opt to switch to solar power, perhaps even more important to many homeowners is the fact that solar power has the potential to reduce the amount of money you will pay to heat and cool your home and to provide electricity for your property. According to Solar-Nation.org, implementing a solar power system on your home can save homeowners between $47 and $187 each month in the first year alone.
- Increased Property Value: As if saving hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on your electric bill weren’t reason enough to switch to solar, real estate experts suggest that outfitting your residence with a solar panel system can add serious value to your home should you decide to sell it down the road. In fact, CostOfSolar.com suggests that an investment in solar power will pay for itself several times over the course of just 25 years after installation. Plus, the organization also estimates that the retail value of a $500,000 home can be increased by as much as $20,000 once a solar panel system is implemented.
- Incentive and Rebates: Searching for even more savings? When you install solar panels on your property, you automatically become eligible to receive a series of tax credits and rebates as a reward for going green. The most popular of these programs is the federal residential renewable energy tax credit. According to Energy.gov, U.S. taxpayers can claim a credit of 30% on qualified expenditures for solar energy systems placed on personal residences that are owned or used by the taxpayer.Plus, some states even offer renewable energy incentive programs in which electric companies actually pay qualifying homeowners for their green energy contributions with cash or credits. In these scenarios, installing a solar energy system on your property won’t just help you save money each month—it will allow you to earn some extra cash too.