photo: Jon Callas/CC BY
Editor's note: The following is a guest post from solar power-as-service provider SunRun. TreeHugger has covered the advantages of leasing solar panels over buying them a number of times and there are plenty of other companies providing this service in addition to the author of this post. Some of the details below will vary from state-to-state.
The solar industry is surging forward at full speed right now with panel prices dropping and companies hiring. For example, according to SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), the solar industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, employing nearly 100,000 Americans at more than 5,500 companies. What's more, in just the past six months the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels has come down by 30 percent.Yet the age-old myth remains: Many Americans still think solar is too expensive or not right for them. Here are a few tips that can shed some light (pun intended) on solar and how even modest-income families can make the switch to start saving money on electricity bills while doing something good for the planet.
- You don't have to own the solar panels: Did you know you can save money with solar and not even have to own the panels? New leasing and power purchase agreements mean you can get solar for little or no upfront cost and just pay monthly for the power the system produces. Companies that provide this service even maintain and monitor the panels so you don't have to do it yourself.
- Get credit with the utility for unused power: Did you know that with solar energy you can get credit with the utility for power you don't use? You are still connected to the grid so when your panels produce more than you use, the power goes back to the grid and you receive a credit.
- A risk-free investment:If you switch to a solar power service where you don't own the panels, you can lock in a fixed rate for clean energy that is equal to or less than what you pay your utility. This means you'll know exactly what you'll pay for power for 20 years, and as utility rates remain volatile your savings from solar will grow - a risk-free investment in a tough economy. That's one bill you can fix as you continue to look for ways to cut costs.
- You don't need a huge home to make an impact: Solar, on an average 3-bedroom home, can offset 80,000 pounds of carbon dioxide over 15 years. This is the same as not driving 100,000 miles. Everyone can make a difference.
Consider the alternative: Most homes in the U.S. get electricity from a utility, which gets 70% of its power from dirty fossil fuels, such as coal. When you turn on your TV or your lights, you are making the planet and the air we breathe dirtier. Plus you are missing out on electricity bill savings that can help pad your wallet! As more Americans learn the truth behind traditional solar myths, we will become a cleaner and more financially-smart nation. So what are you waiting for - it's at least worth your while to find out if your home is right for solar. You might be pleasantly surprised.