Consumer Reports says, “There has probably never been a better time to switch to solar.” That’s because the cost of a residential solar system today is about the same as purchasing an economy car. Just as that car can help “pay for itself” because of lower operating costs, a residential system can also “pay for itself” by lowering utility bills over its useful life.
In the United States today, there is a federal tax incentive in place. It is a tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of the system. Various state and local incentives may apply as well. However, they vary widely across the country, with California offering the highest and some states like Rhode Island offering none.
Then there are utility and regulatory policies to consider as well. In some parts of the country, homeowners can sell their excess electricity back to the local grid at market rates. In others, the so-called “net metering” rate is quite a bit less. In still other jurisdictions, there isn’t a requirement for utilities to pay anything for the excess power.
Overall, residential solar power is on the rise, growing 60% in 2015. There is now one new domestic solar installation in America every 100 seconds.
Consumer Reports urges people not to wait. Right now may be the sweet spot for customers who want to add a solar system to their homes. While the cost of photovoltaic panels has come down dramatically in recent years, that trend is flattening out. Some state and local incentives are set to expire soon, and the utility industry is actively trying to limit the amount it pays for rooftop solar energy. People who act now will likely be grandfathered in if changes occur.
Where to begin? Consumer Reports recommends buying rather than leasing a system, to save the most money. Interested homeowners can go to various free online services, like Cost of Solar and EnergySage, to get cost estimates and savings estimates, and then get connected with local installers in their area.
Up until now, people who waited to get rooftop solar have saved a little money by doing so. But the window of opportunity may be closing. When Consumer Reports says the time to take action is now, it is not just sales hype. Check out the sites above today to find out how much you could save with a residential solar system.
Images by Consumer Reports