6 Ways to Generate Green Energy at Home | Direct Energy Blog

It has never been cheaper to generate your own electricity with a residential solar panel installation.  Going solar is a wise investment that many homeowners are enjoying. It is a reliable and clean way to use solar power.

You may be surprised at how little can cost to benefit financially from a solar panel system.  On top of that, you are able to contribute to the environment with considerable carbon emission savings.

If you are planning to power your home with solar energy, take these steps defined by Energy.gov:

Investigate Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

The first step in the process of a residential solar panel installation is to investigate your energy use and consider potential efficiency upgrades.  Know how much electricity you consume and take efficiency measures in reducing your electricity usage.

Assess Your Solar Potential

The technologies used in residential solar panel installation use both direct and scattered sunlight to create electricity.  Assess the potential of solar energy that can be produced in the location of your home where the solar panels will be installed.  You can check mapping services and tools that will determine your home’s solar energy potential.

Assess Your Options for Using Solar

There are several ways available in using solar panels at home. The programs that can be available in your area include:

  • Purchasing your own solar energy system
  • Community or shared solar
  • Solar leases
  • Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)
  • Solarize Programs

Estimate Your Solar Electricity Needs

A residential solar panel system that is best suited for your home will depend on the recommendations from your solar panel installer or contractor.  You will need to provide information about your home and electricity use such as:

  • Your annual electricity needs in kilowatt-hours
  • Which months you use electricity the most
  • Your planned changes including appliances you will buy or if you are planning to purchase an electric vehicle
  • Your planned changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency

Obtain Bids and Site Assessments From Solar Installers

Make sure that you will hire qualified and insured professionals who will install your residential solar panel system.  They should have the proper certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

You may also check online resources for reviews and ask family members and friends who have recently installed a home solar system.  Ask for proof of licensure before working with any solar panel installer.

Consider asking the following questions when you are scouting for a contractor who will install your residential solar panel system:

  1.  Is your company familiar with local permitting and interconnection processes?
  2. Can the company provide references from other customers in your area?
  3. Is the company properly licensed or certified?
  4. What is the warranty for this system like?
  5. Does the company have any pending or active judgments or liens against it?

Ask your contractor for a bid that should clearly state the maximum generating capacity of your residential solar system.  They should also let you know the estimated amount of energy that the system will produce on an annual and monthly basis.

A bid should include the total cost of getting the solar system up and running including:

  • Hardware
  • Installation
  • Connection to the grid
  • Permitting
  • Sales tax
  • Warranty

The most useful metrics for comparing prices across different contractors or installers are the cost per watt and estimated cost per kilowatt-hour.

Understand Available financing and Incentives

You can avail of solar financing depending on your situation.  The Clean Energy States Alliance guide and Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar can help you understand the options that are available. Explore all options for solar financing that you can avail yourself of.

If you own a small solar energy system, you are eligible for a 22% tax credit in 2021.  However, this will not be applied if you opt for a solar lease or power-purchase agreement since you will not own the solar energy system.

Search the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for additional state, local, or utility incentives.

Work With Your Installer and Utility

The installer of your residential solar panel system should help you in the following ways:

  • Complete the necessary permitting and steps
  • Determine the appropriate size for your system based on your electricity needs
  • Ensure that all equipment is installed correctly and oriented and tilted to maximize the daily and seasonal solar energy received and produced by your system
  • Help you understand how billing and net metering will work

Are Solar Panels Worth It?

At the end of the day, the cost of residential solar panel installation is only as important as the return you will get.  For most homeowners, it is a worthwhile investment because you are generating free electricity from an inexhaustible source and racking up the savings. Going solar is easy, just call Solar Alternatives for residential solar panels installation

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