Is Solar For You? One of the hottest trends in home improvement right now is solar energy systems. Homeowners are interested in the green aspect — as well as the promise of saving lots of green. Solar can be a good choice for almost anyone, but there are things to consider before you make the investment.
1. Get an accurate idea of the energy your home actually uses. Think about the size of your family — is it growing? Are your kids going off to college? Do you run a business from your home? Find a solar installer to help determine your needs and estimate any future needs.
2. Are southwest-facing panels the only way to go? Yes, often southwest is best, but positioning panels west or south also works well. Southeast, east and north-northwest are also acceptable alternatives. A professional installer can determine the most ideal placement.
3. Will installing solar panels affect property taxes? No! In most jurisdictions, panels are not reason for reassessment.
4. One long-term cost that will increase, however, is homeowners’ insurance. It is important to cover your investment with a bit of additional coverage. This cost will probably average under $10 a month.
5. It is important to understand your warranties. There are basically two kinds you should consider. The manufacturer of the panels will provide a warranty on the panels and inverters. Generally, the warranty covers the panels for 20-25 years and the inverters for 5-10 years. Your installer should also offer a warranty on their work. Industry standard is approximately 2-10 years. Make sure any warranties are included in the written contract for the work and you stash a copy in a safe place for any future issues.
6. Will the panels harm my roof? The panels actually offer a protective barrier against the elements that various climates may bring. The panels help keep the roof cool, and also the rooms below.
7. The type of roof you have will affect the cost of installation. Expect to pay 10-25% more if you have a slate, or Spanish tile roof, as opposed to asphalt shingles. Always get a few estimates in your area. Price, warranty and timeline for completion can all vary significantly depending on your installer.
8. Before making the investment, do your best to conserve for free. See how well you can do with weatherproofing, using energy efficient appliances and bulbs, and good old conservation before taking the plunge. With these efforts, you will be able to determine your real energy needs and make a wise decision.
Tim Smith writes for Modernize.
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