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The Cost-Benefit Analysis of Switching to Solar Power

Did you know that in 86% of states, the likely return from installing solar beats the interest earned on a 5-year CD (certificate of deposit)? Or that in 25% of states, average homeowners can get better ROI from going with solar panels than from investing in an S&P 500 index fund?

These are some recent findings from Cost of Solar, a nationwide network of highly experienced, licensed solar professionals educating the public about the benefits of solar energy. The commercial solar industry is growing so fast that Q2 2013 Solar Facts statistics estimate that a new solar project is installed in the U.S. every 4 minutes. This is great news for consumers as technological advances and market saturation of solar companies allows for higher competition and lower cost incentives for buyers. The costs of solar panel installations have lowered as well.

Of course, there are the notable environmental benefits associated with solar energy. According to the SEIA/GTM Research of the U.S. Market Q2 2013 report, there are now 9,400 megawatts of solar energy. It is enough to power 1.5 million average American homes, is equivalent to removing 1.9 million cars from the road, or planting 236,000,000 trees. Knowing that your home is equipped with solar panels can make you more conscientious about your overall energy consumption in other aspects of daily life such as commuting. It also allows greater independence from utility companies and annual electricity price increases. Solar panels are also easier to maintain. The typical way to clean the panels is to hose them off with water a few times a year and many homeowners simply rely on the rain to do the job for them.

Installing solar panels increases the resale value of your house in California and many other states, and solar installations are property-tax exempt. One hindrance that may prevent a homeowner from switching to solar power is the upfront cost. Fortunately, many solar companies have lease-to-own options available for those who might not be able to spend thousands of dollars the first time. Leasing has opened up solar to a whole new group of homeowners according to Jonathan Bass, spokesman for SolarCity. “We think of ourselves as an energy provider,” he said. “Installation is free and the customer pays for electricity.” Solar companies also provide performance maintenance and repair service to the panels installed, whether leased or purchased upfront. To find out more about the cost breakdown analysis and estimate for your home, The Solar Estimate provides an excellent resource that allows you to see both solar costs and returns from installing a solar power system.

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