Affordable, easy and really cool, home solar power saves you money while helping the planet!
Thanks to All Energy Solar for sponsoring this post and for making it easy for people to produce their own clean energy!
Maybe you’ve thought about solar for your home because you love the idea of producing your own clean power and shrinking your energy footprint. Or maybe you never gave it much thought because you assumed solar was too expensive. I have terrific news for you: Home solar power is not only affordable, it can save you thousands of dollars on electricity! And with financing available, you don’t even need to worry about upfront costs. It’s easy, clean, and saves you money — what’s not to love?
The price of home solar power has plummeted in recent years, dropping over 70% since 2009. And some really attractive rebate programs and financing have made generating electricity from your roof attainable for far more of us. With rebates, the final price of the new home solar system All Energy Solar installed for us will be just a couple thousand dollars, and we’ll likely make that money back in energy savings in under ten years. After that, we’ll just be saving on our electricity and selling our surplus back to the grid to the tune of hundreds of dollars each year.
The process of getting our solar panels was really easy. All Energy Solar, a Twin Cities-based company, handled the entire project start to finish, from initial site assessment to design to paperwork to electrical hook-ups. The staff at All Energy Solar evaluated our roof for solar capacity, developed a design, and even submitted our paperwork to the state for a special rebate program promoting panels made here in Minnesota. They patiently answered my numerous questions, updated our order when situations changed, and held our hands through the whole process of getting paperwork filed, panels ordered and installed, and hooked up to the grid.
Here’s the All Energy Solar team installing our panels.
The install team was friendly, professional, and helpful. Getting the panels installed was simple on our end, because the staff at All Energy Solar took care of absolutely everything. I just had to sign a few forms and make sure someone was home for a couple site visits and the hookup day.
Geeking Out with Solar Monitoring
Once the power company hooked us up to the grid, the monitoring included with our panels lets us see our real-time usage and production. On sunny days I get to see that we’re producing more power than our house uses, and we sell that extra back to the power company.
Warning for other energy nerds: Real-time monitoring can make it hard to get anything done! I can’t help but check on the rises and falls in production over the course of the day and watch the spikes when I turn on the toaster or dishwasher!
Here’s what the monitoring shows us:
The pink shows the energy we use, and the green shows the energy the panels produce. The white area where those overlap is the energy we’re using as the panels make it. What we don’t use (the green) is sold back to the grid for others to purchase from the power company. You can’t store your energy, so this is a smart way to keep from wasting it. We buy energy back from the power company at night and on cloudy days when we’re using more power than the panels generate. The bar to the far right shows real-time power production (green) and use (white below the red line).
On a sunny October day when our geothermal isn’t needed to heat the house, these 9 panels actually generate a tiny bit more during daylight hours than our household uses in 24 hours running the dishwasher, lights and electronics (like my laptop, where I’m typing this now). On longer, sunnier days, we’ll make more, on shorter or very cloudy days we’ll make less. We didn’t have room for more panels, or we’d be making more energy. If you have room, you might generate far more than you need and make money selling electricity back to the grid.
The monitoring system that came with the panels turns out to be an incredibly useful tool for understanding the ways you’re using energy. You can walk all over the house turning off lights and appliances and unplugging things that are drawing power that don’t need to. When your phone or computer are done charging, unplug them and watch the usage bar drop.
Similar to hybrid car owners whose feedback system challenges them to “hypermile,” the solar monitoring system prods users to limit the amount of electricity they use, helping to reduce waste. That means remembering to turn off vent fans and unplug unused electronics, from phones and TVs to dustbusters. Your printer, for example, wastes over $100 in energy each year if you leave it plugged in all the time.
How much will home solar power save?
We’ll get a 30% rebate from the federal government, which will appear as a credit on our taxes. The state rebate program will send us a check each year for the next ten years based on the amount our panels produce. After about 8 years, we should have recouped our initial investment and be making money from the power we’re producing for the life of the panels (25-40 years).
In our first month, our panels generated about $35 worth of energy, including some very overcast and rainy days when they made very little. If that turns out to be an average for the year, that’s over $400 in electricity — more as rates increase — that we don’t have to buy each year for as long as they operate.
Here’s a graph that shows what it costs you not to get home solar power:
The green part of the graph shows our costs for energy over the next 25 years. The orange part shows what we would have to pay for that energy if we didn’t have solar panels. Which would you rather do? With projected rate increases, All Energy Solar estimates our total savings to be over $10,000 in the next 25 years. Plus our panels add to our home’s value if we decide to sell it. We only have enough space for panels to cover about 40% of our electricity use. If you have the space for more, you could be saving more.
Of course, saving money is not the only reason to get home solar power! By using clean renewable energy, we’re preventing all the greenhouse gas emissions that go with energy production from fossil fuels like coal. Here’s a snapshot of the environmental impact of powering our home with the sun:
That depends on a number of factors, especially the price of electricity in your area, the rebates available to you, and the amount of sun your roof receives. You don’t need to live in a “sunshine state” for solar to be a great investment — New York, Connecticut, Iowa, even Minnesota receive plenty of sunlight to power your home.
The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency® lets you check which rebates are available in your area, and your solar installer will also be familiar with your region’s rebate programs. If you live in one of the states served by All Energy Solar (currently Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Massachusetts), you’ll find a user-friendly overview of the rebates you’re eligible for here.
Congress has extended the federal tax credit on solar, which will continue at 30% through 2019, dropping by 4% in 2020 and again in 2021 before it’s phased out. (But you’re not going to wait that long anyway, right?)
And if you don’t have the cash handy for the upfront cost of your panels, there’s plenty of attractive financing to help you cover it. Typically, the loan payments are less than you’re earning in energy each month, so you make a small profit till the loan is paid off. After that, you own the panels, and they continue to generate energy for you as long as you have them.
All Energy Solar has helped more than 500 customers go solar this year alone. You could be next! Click here to find out more about getting their terrific team to help you harness the power of the sun for your home or business, too. I’ve been thrilled with our panels and the service we got from All Energy Solar. If you’re in their service area, contact them to find out more about going solar, too!
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