Roof top solar installations across the United States are quickly growing in number as more homeowners understand the many benefits. In the first quarter of 2015 alone, there were approximately 66,000 new installations, according to a market report compiled by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). There are now over 700,000 rooftop solar systems in the U.S., according to a June 24, 2015 article in Time.
Advantages on Many Levels
Homeowners find solar energy attractive for financial, environmental and emergency reasons. Those with their own solar systems enjoy the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing that they have an energy source when power outages occur across the grid. Solar panels reduce household consumption of electricity generated from fossil fuels. The result is a reduced carbon footprint, and “going green” sends a good message to younger members of the family.
Still, many embrace solar power for primarily financial reasons. New financing alternatives reduce upfront costs. Federal and state tax credits, utility rebates, and increased property values further reduce the net cost of solar energy. Those that buy a residential solar system can claim a 30 percent federal investment tax credit (ITC). However, unless Congress extends the expiration date, this tax credit program will end on January 1, 2017, so those that wish to buy their systems are often taking action now.
Leasing is now a viable alternative that reduces upfront costs to zero in some cases. Homeowners simply make a monthly lease payment, and they enjoy the free electricity that their rooftop units produce. Meanwhile, the solar company monitors and maintains the system, so homeowners enjoy real peace-of-mind.
Significant Cost Reductions
The revolution in residential solar is also driven by reduced materials costs. Solar panels that cost over $1 per watt a couple of years ago now cost less than half that. Also, installations are more efficient than ever. Installers have learned a great deal about effective rooftop solar panel layouts. And, they have garnered the experience necessary to cut installation times.