Savvy consumers are now turning to solar energy to beat utility price spikes. Thanks to technological advances and attractive rebates, home solar-electric systems are more popular and affordable than ever. Last year, Americans installed 33 megawatts of residential solar systems, enough to power the equivalent of more than 41,000 homes. In Southern California, Cheryl and Robert Boland faced electrical bills that averaged $300 a month and spiked to nearly $600 during the dog days of summer. Then the Bolands installed solar panels on the roof of their Apple Valley home. “Now our utility bill averages about $1.75 each month,” said Cheryl Boland. “When I compare the cost of installing the system with what we will save on our bills over the next two decades, solar gives us an incredible return on investment. For us, it was all about the money.” For homeowners interested in using solar panels to combat high energy bills, here are four important points to consider: The right installer. Experience and reputation are critical in selecting a solar installer. The solar professional will not only design your system and install the panels, but he or she will guide you through the process of obtaining tax incentives and rebates, potentially saving you thousands of dollars. To find a qualified installer in your area, visit www.solarworld.com/meltmybill. Smart system design. A residential solar system must be designed to produce the right amount of power for your home and lifestyle. A good installer will review your previous year’s energy bills along with the orientation and shading of your roof. Check your installer’s credentials for signs of credible certification, for instance, as a manufacturer’s authorized installer. Reputable panel manufacturer. Because home solar-energy systems should last for at least 25 years, homeowners must know theirs is built to last. Many customers find assurance in purchasing products made by manufacturers with proven longevity. “It was important to us to choose a panel from a long-standing American producer,” Boland said. Guaranteed power output. A factory process called “plus sorting” ensures that solar panels are tested to meet or exceed their nameplate power rating. Plus, a 25-year linear warranty and 10-year workmanship warranty provide consumer protection.
With these four elements in place, homeowners often experience a 50 percent decrease in their electric bills, and sometimes eliminate their bills completely.