With the long hot days of summer upon us, many people are walking into the downtown Showroom to learn a bit more about our residential solar design and installation services. We get questions about panels, manufacturers, and installation practices. Yet, the first question people ask more than anything else is, “Is my house a good house for solar?” More often than not, in a climate such as the one we live in, solar is typically a great energy solution. What is more debatable is whether all homes are good for solar. This article will briefly outline some of the characteristics we look for and questions our trained Energy Adviser’s ask to determine if ‘solar’ is the right energy solution for this home.
How Much is Your Energy Bill?
The first step to evaluate if your home is a good fit for solar is to look at your monthly energy bill. For most consumers, solar to save money is part of creating personal financial stability. For most homeowners, electricity costs are a large portion of monthly expenses and an expense that is uncontrolled, due to the utility’s control of costs. The general rule is that solar makes the most financial sense when someone has an electricity bill as low as $75 to $100 a month. A utility bill of about $75 is the threshold where homeowners will see solar savings.
With a variety of finance options, many with $0 out of pocket costs and tax incentives, solar is overwhelmingly affordable to most homeowners. The overall idea is to pay the same, or less, than you currently pay and lock in a rate of payment. When you have a fixed payment to pay for your system, you are locking in your electrical rates and saving money by generating your own clean energy.
What Kind of Roof Do You Have?
Solar panels work best with strong, durable roofing materials such as composition or asphalt shingles, concrete tiles, or standing seam metal. Materials such as wood shake or slate tile is a bit more difficult to install and may cost a bit more for the installation of the panels. When roofs are not able to carry the weight of the panels, often a ground mount system is the ideal solution.
What Condition is Your Roof In?
Roofs that are near the end of their warrantied lives might not be ideal roofs for solar installation. It is a good idea to replace roofs that are at the end of their life before installing solar. Plus, roof replacement allows for the homeowner to take advantage of the same tax incentive as solar installation, reducing the gross cost of the new roof. Solar panels have an expected useful life of up to 40 years. Needing to replace a roof during that effective lifespan means you’d have to pay to have the removed and then reinstalled.
How Much Sunlight Hits Your Roof?
For solar panels to be an effective upgrade to your home, you would have to see how much sunlight hits your roof. There are many different online tools that allow for a homeowner to look at the sun’s trajectory on their roof, such as SunCalc or the University of Oregon’s Sun Path Chart Program.
Next work with a reputable, local solar company, who can work with you to determine the most effective and efficient design of the solar array. The home’s orientation, roof angle, and shading all impact how much energy each panel can potentially make. The more direct sunlight your home receives, the more power the panels will produce.
What is the Climate Like?
Solar energy can be generated in all variations of climates. Extreme heat, rain and snow can impact the panels overall generation; however, panels do work in all sorts of environments. High-efficiency solar panels concert direct, and indirect, sunlight into electricity, so they can work on cloudy, rainy or snowy days. Working with a reputable solar installation company will allow you to understand how the climate you live in can impact the overall effectiveness of the panels. That being said, in the valley region of Northern, California where we live, the climate is ideal for solar panels to produce 12 months a year.
If you think your home is a good candidate for solar, reach out to our Energy Advisers. We can sit down with you and help answer your questions about your home and solar.
If you are curious to know if solar is right for your home, contact us for a Free Estimate.