Installing solar panels on your home or business can be an effective way to reduce your fossil-fuel energy footprint, while also reducing your electric bills for decades to come. The investment in clean electricity through solar energy can offer an ROI as good as, or better than, many other conventional investments, but it does require a commitment, as a home solar array isn’t exactly a plug-and-play project, but is meant to be installed semi-permanently so as to offer years of maintenance-free service.

To get the most savings on your home solar panel installation, there are a few angles to approaching the project’s cost savings, with some of them leveraging your time or your money or your labor, and others leveraging the competitive nature of today’s home solar companies.

Save some now or save more later

When considering solar panels, it’s important to remember that they are built to last for decades, and that they can have a bit of a decline in efficiency as they get old (although not a significant enough one to make that a serious issue in most cases). However, there are also are a great number of different makes and models of solar panels on the market, so it’s possible to buy really cheap solar panels that offer an upfront savings, or to buy higher quality panels that cost more initially, but which will pay off in greater efficiency and longer life over the long run.

Save on finance charges

Paying cash for big-ticket items can almost always deliver a significant savings, when compared to the interest and fees owed due to borrowing the money, so if you have the means to cover the purchase of the solar installation up front, it can pay to do so.

Save through solar incentives

Many places have solar incentives, and whether they are national or local or regional rebates or tax credits (or utility-based incentives), it’s time well spent to find out what levels of incentives are available for you in your specific location.

Save by doing your homework

Before you go out and get some solar bids, it’s helpful to understand what the going rates are for solar installations, what the average size and capacity is, what your regular home electricity demand is, what your current cost of electricity is, and other related issues, so you know the right questions to ask of any potential solar installers.

Save by doing an energy audit first

Energy conservation is always cheaper and more effective than producing more energy, even if it’s renewable energy, so before you explore a home solar installation, have an energy audit done first, and then take action to reduce any unnecessary energy demands. When done first, your new solar electric installation will be as effective as possible in reducing your home energy bills, because you’ve cut out your energy waste.

Save by shopping around for bids

When looking into getting a home solar installation, be sure to get a number of different bids and proposals from qualified solar contractors, which will allow you to know that you’re getting the best deal possible before committing to it, and to find the best cheap solar panel installers.

Save by getting the right size of solar array

A solar array that is too small to offset enough of the home’s energy demands isn’t going to save much money, so it’s important that any solar proposals take into account the average baseline energy demand of the house, as well as any peak energy needs, so as to appropriately size the solar array.

Save with a DIY installation

If you’re handy with tools and don’t mind putting in the time and energy to do the work, most of a home solar installation can be done by yourself. A DIY-er can do everything from getting the permit to buying the solar panels, the mounting system, the inverter, and the necessary wiring, to installing the actual racking and panels, and can then have a qualified electrician do the wiring and any additional technical details.

Solar panels can save money for homeowners year after year, and although purchasing a home solar installation can require an investment, it’s possible to save more money on the project with one or more of these approaches.

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