If you've been thinking about switching to solar energy to power your home, there's never been a better time. The average cost of solar panels has plummeted 70% over the past decade, and the government has made a bevy of rebates and tax credits available to offset costs even further.
Switching to solar power is great for the planet and comes with the promise of big savings for you and your family. No longer fully reliant on the grid, estimates place the amount homeowners can save on electricity at about $1,500 on average per year.
So what does it take to lead a successful solar upgrade, and what can you do to ensure you get all available rebates and credits along the way? We'll walk you through everything you need to know.
How Do I Convert to Solar Energy?
In order to move away from fossil fuel or electric power to solar generation, you'll need to install solar panels or shingles on or around your home. Here's how they work: Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells that absorb and convert sunlight to direct-current (DC) electricity. That DC electricity makes one final stop before getting to your home, passing through a device called an inverter, which turns it into alternating-current electricity (AC) — the kind your home can recognize and use.
The first step in solar conversion involves determining if switching to solar is even feasible for your home. That's because not all homes have the structural integrity or fortuitous positioning to support panels with enough sun exposure to power their homes. Naturally, if your home is shaded by tree-cover, you may have to look for alternatives, such as ground-mounted solar panels.
Root-mounted solar panels generally work best on southern-facing roofs with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees. Of course, other roofs may be suitable too. Department of Energy tools and apps like SunSeeker can help you determine your home's own solar potential before deciding to move forward with a contractor for installation.
Related Post: Solar Energy: How to Get Started, Confidently
New Power Dynamics
The common motive for switching to solar power is to become less reliant on utility companies for energy. So what does that relationship look like in practice once you've switched to solar? Although the potential for fully self-sufficient solar homes exists, most solar homes remain connected to the grid — though with greatly reduced reliance.
The specifics will also differ based on your location, as different states may have different policies. Remaining tied to a utility company is useful for peace of mind, as your home can switch over to the grid when it has depleted its solar stores to ensure you always have energy to power your home. That's why you also might want to install a battery system along with solar paneling. Batteries will store excess solar energy during the day so you have what you need at night and on cloudy days. Solar batteries differ in both energy capacity, meaning the total amount of energy that can be stored, and power capacity, referring to the amount of energy that can be released at a given time.
How Much Does Switching to Solar Cost?
Upfront costs and eventual savings related to switching to solar are hard to quantify. Both figures vary depending on your location and energy costs in your area. If you live in an area with a higher cost of living, you can expect to recoup your investment faster — especially when you take into account the fact that energy costs will only continue to rise over time.
Of course, there's no denying that switching to solar will involve some upfront costs. Fortunately, the government has stepped in to help lighten the load for homeowners interested in adopting solar energy. The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has allocated $9 billion in rebates for energy-efficiency and home-electrification projects along with some key tax credits geared toward helping homeowners.
How to Take Advantage of the Federal Solar Tax Credit
The IRA has introduced a series of tax credits, but the one that's most immediately applicable to a solar conversion falls under 25D, or the Federal Solar Tax Credit. Between now and 2032, homeowners can qualify for a 30% tax credit on purchases or expenditures related to home solar projects.
That includes expenses for:
Solar PV panels or PV cells
Contractor labor costs
Balance-of-system equipment, including wiring, inverters, and mounting equipment
Fuel cells and battery storage with a capacity of at least three kilowatt hours
Sales taxes on eligible expenses
It's widespread coverage that should provide savings throughout nearly all stages of conversion. It is important to note however, that in order to qualify for these credits, each of your purchases must be made for a solar upgrade at your primary residence.
You've got a good amount of time to take advantage of these credits, but do note that they'll start to shrink in 2033. That year, credits drop from 30% to 26% and then again to 22% in 2034.
Other Rebates and Tax Credits to Consider
In addition to what was made available through the IRA, state and local governments and even some utility providers offer their own rebates or tax credits. The best part is, in many cases, they don't prevent you from taking advantage of the Federal credits. However, make sure to check your local laws beforehand to be sure.
Additional programs made available through the IRA can help you get money back on the amount of energy you end up saving with your new solar home. Others can provide rebates for any other upgrades you may want to make, like a new ENERGY STAR® stove and oven or an EV charging station for your garage.
How Do I Get Started?
The amount and variety of available credits and rebates are good news for solar homeowners. Unfortunately, it also makes keeping them all straight a bit of a challenge. That's where Green Door's Rebate Finder comes in. Accessing the app is quick and easy, and you'll be able to browse the latest rebates and tax credits available in your area so you never miss a savings opportunity. Even better, all the documentation you need to claim them is available in the app, and Green Door will reflect any updates should they become available to ensure you always have the most current information.
When you're ready to move forward on your solar conversion, Green Door will be there every step of the way. Creating an account is free and will enable you to find and connect with local contractors to help lead your installation. Pearl Network Contractors are well-versed in rebates and tax credits and know what it takes to complete a Pearl Certifiable installation. They can even help you estimate how long it'll take for you to recoup the cost of going solar to aid you in your decision. Pearl Network Contractors are equipped with the Pearl Solar Equity Calculator®, which can provide a more detailed picture of the dollars and cents. Use Green Door’s Find Professionals tab to locate a Pearl Network Contractor near you.
The sun is shining, and there's never been a better time to investigate solar power options near you. Log in to Green Door to start your high-powered home journey today.