Many homeowners are interested in the potential savings presented by installing solar panels on their home. While some situations could potentially reap tens thousands of dollars in reduced energy costs over time, not all homes are created equal. An unobstructed roof with sufficient space to fund your family’s energy needs, a sunny orientation and geographic placement, as well as the availability of city, state and federal rebates will determine whether your home is well suited to solar.

What to Consider Before Investing in Solar

If you are thinking about installing solar panels on your home, it is important to take some time to investigate whether your home and finances will truly make it a worthy investment. Consider such factors as:

The Condition, Size, Orientation and Strength of Your Roof – While solar panels can last thirty years or more, the typical asphalt roof lasts around twenty years. If your roof hasn’t recently been replaced, it likely has a much shorter lifespan. Removing and reinstalling solar panels can be challenging and costly, so be sure your roof is in good order first.

Along with the condition of the roof, its layout, materials and direction are important. Some companies charge an additional fee to install solar panels on top of flat, concrete, or ceramic tile roofs. Unobstructed roof space with lots of sun exposure to generate enough energy to cover your needs is a must. It is also critical that a professional determine whether your roof can handle the weight of solar panels or if additional support is needed.

The Location of Your Home – Most professionals would say that the best placement for solar panels is southern or western facing. If you live in the South or Southwest, solar panels have the greatest opportunity to produce energy due to more sunny days. Tall objects, such as trees or satellite dishes that cast shadows on your roof could hinder energy production—so if your northern facing home has a lot of shade trees, it is probably not well suited to solar panels.

The Potential Cost and Return of Solar Panels – The cost of installing a residential solar panel system typically runs anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. Collecting quotes for different equipment packages from multiple solar panel companies could save you 10% or more. National-scale installers are known to charge higher prices ($2,000 to $5,000 more than smaller solar companies) and fewer equipment options, so don’t forget to call smaller providers).

Many cities, states and even solar companies offer rebates for installing residential roof solar panels. A good contractor should know what rebates are offered by your local city and state. The federal solar tax credit can further reduce costs by 30%.

Your current electricity bill is the greatest telltale of how much you might save with solar panels. Take a look at this online calculator for a ballpark glimpse at the potential costs and savings you could incur.  It’s important to remember that your savings will accumulate over time. Realizing tens of thousands in energy cost savings could take as long as seven to twenty years.

While the costs of residential solar systems are expected to continue to fall, many factors, including those above, will determine whether you could truly incur an appropriate amount of savings for your investment.

Contact a Cole Harrison agent today to see if you might qualify for insurance discounts based on your home’s energy efficient features.

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