Solar Energy Projects and Tips for Your Home
With climate change becoming a significant consideration for today's homebuyers and sellers, many people are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. One of the best ways to do this is by incorporating solar energy into your home. Switching to solar energy is good for the environment, but it can also save you money in the long run. To help you get started, Redfin asked us and other experts for some solar energy projects you can take on to power your home.
1) Analyze your electric usage
Homeowners can easily go solar by having a professional analyze their usage from the electric company and build a system that fits their home and usage. Once we assess the power usage, we can respond with a digital design, system size, power production, and what the homeowner would save by going solar.
2) Know how much energy you need
Make sure you understand your consumption needs. Plan in advance if you anticipate using more than what you use today. Also, make sure your roof is in good condition. Finally, be sure you have enough sun exposure if you’re considering going solar.
3) Consider your financing options
Find competitive financing and own your solar systems outright. Reach out to an MLO (Mortgage Loan Originator) and at least two other local lenders and seek out a HELOC (home equity line of credit) loan to maximize your savings, reduce your down payment, and lock in the most favorable interest rates for your new install.
4) Make sure your system generates power
Homeowners need to make sure that their installation included a power production guarantee. Without a guarantee of power, homeowners are putting their decision to go solar at risk of not making financial sense.
5) Think about traditional financing options before opting for a PPA plan
Homeowners often contact us to consider solar panels for their homes. While PPA (power purchasing agreement) plans are often really enticing, as they help people put solar panels on their homes for no money down - the plans can lead to someone paying more for energy over the long run. Another way of looking at this is buying your solar system with an incredibly high interest rate. We encourage those interested in solar to look at traditional financing options and PPA before deciding - as solar PV is extremely cost-competitive with traditional power. PPAs
are a great tool but not the only one in the toolkit to use to move forward with solar systems.
6) Incorporate solar panels into your home design
Solar panels, in addition to technical specs and benefits, are part of home design and architecture. It's often forgotten that you can integrate solar panels into the interior and exterior of a home, such as siding, shutters, or window glass on the south faсade, as well as a variety of household and garden items.
7) Offset your utility costs with solar energy
The biggest benefit solar energy can give your home is powering all of your home’s electricity needs. You can offset the cost of or replace outright utility usage. Depending on how much power you can produce, you may not need to use the power company for your home utility needs. This will vary based on your climate and daily sun exposure.
8) Replace gas appliances with electric ones
Solar panels generate energy in the form of electricity. If you're considering installing solar at your home, think about also replacing your gas appliances with ones that use electricity so you can use more of your solar-generated energy. Common gas appliances like stoves, ovens, drying machines, water heaters, and even your heating and cooling system have electric equivalents that can utilize the electricity produced by your solar system.
9) Power your smart devices with solar energy
Smart devices are a great way to conserve energy and achieve greater control over your home systems, but these devices still rely on energy produced by fossil fuel power plants. To achieve true energy independence, you can add a solar system on your roof or property to ensure that your devices run on clean, renewable energy. Plus, you can incorporate additional upgrades like battery storage and a smart electric panel to add additional levels of security and control to your system.
10) Pinpoint inefficiencies in your home before switching to solar
Have your home evaluated for energy efficiency improvements before installing solar. By pinpointing areas of inefficiency, you can make decisions about cost-effective energy-saving enhancements that may allow a more significant percentage of your home’s energy to come from solar or even reduce the number of solar panels needed. Professional energy auditors and energy management platforms like Lumin are a great way to better understand your home’s energy
needs in preparation for going solar.
11) Take advantage of energy savings and tax benefits
Always oversize your solar system rather than risk undersizing, as the panels will degrade over time. Also, take action, make good decisions, and go solar. Write a smaller check every month, and most likely get an electrical panel upgrade, get solar energy which helps the planet and your neighborhood. Your power rates are locked in, and you get several thousand dollars in tax incentives.
12) Oversize your solar system to cover additional energy needs
When thinking about the sizing of your solar system, consider both your current electricity use and any expected changes in the short term. Switching to an electric vehicle, installing a central air conditioner, or adding a pool and pool pump will cause a significant increase in your home's electricity usage. If you plan on making any of these changes, oversizing your system a bit will help you cover the additional energy loads you might add in the future, including energy
increases caused by being less conservative with your electricity usage.
13) Sidestep energy price increases with a home solar system
Installing a solar system in a home or business can be one of the best investments a homeowner can make. You can beat inflationary increases by locking in power costs at today’s housing prices. There are some critical things to consider. The system must be sized and placed correctly to achieve the listed performance. Some utility providers and rate plans may require integrated programmable storage to optimize your savings. Storage can also be helpful to keep your power
going in the event of a utility power outage. Make sure the installers you choose are trained electricians.
14) Install solar panels on separate structures
A handy way to incorporate solar is on a structure separate from your home. This would allow an autonomous, off-the-grid system that would run solely on solar energy. You would need to install a battery for full uptime, and the electricity required would need to be within the production of the system, but this is an excellent option for people outside the city who have large lots with multiple structures, such as barns, large sheds, garages, and workshops.
15) Take angles and power needs into account before installing solar panels
Solar power is an excellent resource for almost any homeowner. However, there are many factors to consider when it comes to solar energy, such as the size and orientation of the roof. Exposure is one of the most important considerations, with the ideal being from E of 90 degrees to W of 180 degrees for a roof-mounted application. Also, consider how much power you want your system to generate. The maximum power production will depend on the roof size and orientation.
16) Consider non-wired solar products
Whether your home is suitable for solar energy or not, there are many non-wired and portable solar products that can help save you money on your electric cost inside the home (where the sun comes in from a window) and outside. These options are easy to install with screws or stakes in the ground and don't need the help or cost of an electrician. Read the reviews before you buy, most are low cost, and with the advancement of solar cells, most will work for years to come,
look good, and pay for themselves repeatedly.
17) Do your research before undertaking solar energy projects
Before you sign any solar contract, it’s important that you know these fundamental facts about your installer:
Do they have the proper licenses and insurance?
How long have they been in business, and do you trust they’re established enough to remain in business for any service needs?
Are they connected to the construction crew, or are they merely a 3rd party selling you the system that someone else will install?
Does the installer understand how roofing systems work and why they are important?
How do your warranties work, and what will yours include?
Getting this information upfront will help you select a high-quality solar installer so that the system itself will provide you with decades of value and benefits.