Wouldn’t it be great to get solar panels for your home and have the government pay for them? While you may not be able to get free solar panels, federal tax incentives have been extended and can cut the cost of a residential solar power installation by 30%. Many states are also offering incentives and rebates, some of which may approach and even match the federal incentives offer. In addition, many utilities are offering rebates too, and several cities and towns are also pitching in. For example, a meeting at the Town Hall in Belmont, MA very recently promised to enlighten homeowners about how to have free solar panels installed on their homes. In most cases not only solar electric systems are covered, but solar hot water systems as well. As you can see, in some areas of the country, you could install a full household solar energy system very inexpensively.
Federal, State and Local Programs Bolster Solar Investment
As you’ve probably guessed, these incentive programs can be stacked, which means a hefty reduction in the purchase price and installation of solar panels for your home. This is actually better than getting free solar panels, as professional installation costs can run as much as 40% of the price of the entire solar energy system. Imagine getting 60% or more off the cost of a whole house solar installation! In addition, you will save money each and every month on your energy bills and, with grid-tied systems, you will also have the ability to sell your excess energy production back to your local utility.
Many municipalities are also offering interest-free loans to residents who want to install residential solar systems. The town of Pendleton, Oregon is doing just that for residents who otherwise would not be able to afford to solarize their homes. Other town residents got together and received a group discount on systems they bought for their own homes, and were very happy with the results. If you cannot find any such loan programs in your area, there is a federal program called Energy-Efficient Mortgages which offers specialized loans for alternative energy projects, including solar.
Government programs encourage solar in other ways too. For instance, most local governments will exempt a solar energy installation from property taxes, even though it increases the value of the home. In addition, the federal tax credit can be spread out over several years if the amount is more than the total taxable income for the year in which the system was installed. Another concept that makes solar energy more attractive to consumers is feed-in tariffs, which requires utilities to pay a higher price for electricity generated by renewable sources, such as solar. Europe has used these tariffs for many years, and now states like Florida and California are leading the way here in the United States. With electrical rates expected to rise steadily over the next few years, other states will certainly be following their lead.
Other Ways to Save With Solar
It is not necessary to install a whole-house solar energy system to take advantage of these incentives. Small, so-called “starter systems” are also eligible, as well as solar roof shingles–both of which have lower installation costs since the smaller kits can often be installed by the homeowner and the roof shingles are installed by roofing contractors rather than professional solar panel installers. Of course, the bigger your solar system, the more savings you will see right away, and the more value you add to your home. Perhaps you won’t get your solar panels for free, but your overall costs will be diminished to the point where this may be the best investment you ever make in your home.