Solar Power: Is it Right for You?

November 1, 2016

Solar power has great potential as an energy source for many different types of homes in Colorado, which boasts about 230 days of good sunshine every year. And because costs for solar systems have come down, usage has gone up.

Nationwide, more than 600,000 homes are powered by solar energy — with installations up more than 40 percent from last year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

solarFive to 10 years ago, solar panel systems could cost as much as a luxury car. You know, the $60,000 kind. Today the prices have dropped and startup costs are between $15-$25,000. But the initial investment is estimated to pay for itself in between three to 10 years, with five years being the average.

Once you’ve made your return on investment (ROI), experts say you can expect to save 70-100 percent off your current electricity bill. Solar panels typically carry a 20-to-25-year warranty, but most panels continue producing electricity for 30 years or more.

Ten years ago, the rooftop solar power industry got a tremendous boost through loans, leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs), which require zero dollars up front for installation and ongoing maintenance. Each option still offers a cost savings to consumers through lower energy bills – a savings of between 10-30 percent over the cost of your utility electricity bill.

Here’s more info about $0-down leases and $0-down loans, which can make solar affordable to anybody able to pay their current utility bill.

But that begs the $15,000 question for homeowners:  Is it better to lease or to buy?

More experts today favor ownership, because it means keeping more dollars — over the lifetime of the solar panels — in your pocket.

Consumers who lease save far less than those who buy their solar systems outright, according to many sources, including Consumer Reports.

Leasing contracts usually contain an escalator cost, which means your payments go up every year, cutting into your savings. You’ll also miss out on any federal tax benefits and local incentives. Plus, if and when you decide to sell your home, leases have a way of unsettling home buyers.

But on the other side of the debate, escalator costs are typically lower than rising rates charged by utility companies. Those costs could continue to rise over the next few years.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minneapolis has studied the issue of leasing versus owning panels and has a calculator on its website to help you figure out the cost of both options.

Enjoy a Solar Vibe All Year Long at Southshore

With so many sunny days in Southshore, it’s the perfect time to visit all seven Village Homes eye-popping models and to consider the beautiful new Richmond American Homes home collections, updates and all! Priced from the $400s to the $700s.