Green energy. Vector illustration

Green energy. Vector illustration

The advantages of home photovoltaic solar energy systems appeal to both idealistic and the pragmatic motivations: Practical homeowners may consider solar panel installation for the financial benefits; all that energy harvested from the sun dramatically lowers electric bills. At the same time, relying on clean, emission-free solar energy significantly shrinks an individual’s carbon footprint.

Good for Your Pocketbook

The obstacle that most often holds back homeowners from going solar is the associated high installation costs. What many don’t realize, however, is that a significant portion of these costs are actually offset by tax breaks. A federal tax credit of 30% can be claimed for these installation costs, and Colorado offers its residents additional rebates. Another thing to keep in mind is that, even with installation and financing costs, your monthly payment on a residential system will be typically at or below your utility bill.

The break-even point — when a photovoltaic system starts paying for itself — for Colorado residents at about 10 years or less. After this point, your solar panel system will start making you money. You can expect an average return on investment of about 11% each year.

Even homeowners who may move in a few years will still see financial benefits when selling their home. A residential solar system appreciates your home’s value by $2 per watt installed. This may sound small but remember that the average home system is five kilowatts, which translates to five thousand watts. And, while the average system will add a respectable $10,000 to your home’s value, a higher capacity one will give a correspondingly bigger boost.

Good for the Environment

Solar energy systems are also great for homeowners wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. The average American household produces 14,920 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year, assuming an average monthly energy consumption of 957 kilowatt hours. For those living in unconnected single-family homes, this number is significantly higher.

The good news is you can drastically reduce your home’s impact on the environment with a residential solar energy system. Solar energy is “green” partly because of its ability to generate power while giving off zero emissions. The power supplied by your system reduces the amount your home has to rely on conventional utilities, which burn polluting fossil fuels to generate electricity. Every kilowatt installed lowers your home’s carbon footprint by over 3,000 pounds annually. For the average five-kilowatt residential system, that means a reduction of more than 15,000 pounds of CO2 every year! While you won’t realistically be able to eliminate your home’s greenhouse gas emissions entirely, solar power goes a long way in shrinking household waste.

Specifically, summer energy consumption is a major contributor to the average household’s carbon footprint. In general, home energy use dips during the spring and fall, rises slightly during winter, and dramatically increases over the summer. Although on a per-hour basis summer and winter sunlight generates comparable solar power, summer’s longer days lead to a higher per-day energy output. This means that your home solar grid’s energy production will peak at the same time of year utilities experience a spike in demand. By doing your part to reduce this peak demand, you’ll be shrinking the carbon footprint of your entire local community.