Considering installing solar?
“Free energy from the sun and possibly lower my electric bill… Where do I sign up?”
The benefits of installing solar panels may seem like a no-brainer, but the reality is, not every home (and homeowner’s situation) is always right for solar.
There are several factors to consider before pulling the trigger on a solar system, like determining if your home will receive enough sun, finding the right contractor, negotiating contracts and other important details. Investing in solar for your home is a major decision and should be given careful consideration.
What are my goals? If your primary goal is to save money on electric bills, you may be able to achieve this through an energy audit program, which can identify areas of the home for maximum energy savings. REC will be kicking off an On-Bill Repayment program in the future, which can help members who may elect to install eligible energy upgrades to their property at no upfront cost. Stay tuned for details on this.
If your main goal is to use renewable energy and help the environment, consider signing up for our “Go Green Program.” You can help power renewable energy, without having to invest and maintain a home system. More details are online at: www.slvrec.com (Programs tab)
If you’re hoping to reduce your monthly electric bill drastically, it’s important to understand that savings are dependent on many factors, and proper research should be done to verify cost savings.
Is my property suitable for solar? Your roof should be in good condition before installing solar panels. If your roof is old and in poor shape, it may need to be replaced before panels can be mounted. Additionally, your roof should receive a lot of sun to make the most of a rooftop system. Consider how much sun (and shade) the roof receives and if any trees will need to be removed. Solar panels perform best when facing south, so keep this in mind as you think about where the panels will be located.
Ground mounted solar will need plenty of yard space and typically performs better due to superior airflow.
How long will I own the home? If you’re considering solar, you’re likely planning to stay in the home for several years. But if you plan to sell the home at some point down the road, consider that not all potential buyers will want to maintain a solar system. If you enter a contract to lease the system, carefully review the terms and what those mean if you decide to sell the property.
Lease or purchase? Purchasing a solar system outright is expensive, which is why many homeowners opt to lease their solar panels. However, tax credits can typically help cover some of the costs for a new system. Regardless of how you decide to finance the solar system, make sure you get several quotes from qualified contractors.
Speaking of contractors, there are several factors you’ll want to discuss with them upfront.
Can the contractor provide up-to-date documentation? It may seem obvious but be sure to request proof and documentation of the contractor’s licensing, permitting and other credentials. Comb through company reviews, check the contractor’s status with the Better Business Bureau, etc.––do your homework on the front end before signing a contract.
Does the contract seem reasonable and fair? If you decide to hire a contractor to install solar, carefully read the fine print of the contract. Do the system performance calculations seem realistic? Does the project timeframe sound reasonable? Negotiate the contract terms to fit your goals and needs.
Who will maintain the solar panels? Determining who is responsible for maintaining the solar panels will depend on who owns the system. If you lease the system from a solar installer, it may be their responsibility. Periodically, solar panels need to be cleaned as dirt and debris can impact panel productivity. Parts may also need to be replaced, so it’s important to know who will take on these responsibilities.
How will I work with REC? Finally, but equally important, you should contact REC if you decide to install solar. The system must be connected to the electric grid, so you’ll need to sign an interconnection agreement. We can walk you through the steps, including how our Net Metering Program works. Visit our Net Metering Webpage for a general overview and to complete the solar interest form.
For many homeowners, solar panels are a great way to help the environment and save on electric bills––but there are many factors to consider before diving in and installing a system.
As with any major home project, do plenty of research upfront, and contact REC if you have questions or decide to move forward with installation.
We’re your local energy partner and can serve as a helpful resource.
Considering installing solar?