As one of the most visible and common means of green energy, solar power represents one of the most effective options. Jason Bassett, owner of Arrow Roofing & Solar in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, says the average home uses 2,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month, and a $25,000 solar system can offset most of that, with the homeowner recouping that investment through energy savings within five to seven years.
“The cost of solar has gone down a lot in 10 years,” Bassett says. “When I started doing solar, the cost of an installed array was between $7 and $8 per watt. Now it’s between $2.50 and $3.50 a watt. You’re getting more out of your dollar, and competition has really driven it. It’s not just a fringe thing any more. People have a desire to be more green.”
He adds that most solar systems carry warranties for 25 years and should last between 30 and 40 years. “After you get past your payback period, it’s pure profit,” he says. “There’s no downside to the investment.”
Remo Eyal, CEO of Superior Solar Systems in Altamonte Springs, Florida, points out that solar power frequently generates so much energy that it feeds the excess power back into the grid. “Your meter is running backward and reducing the bill,” he says. “The power company is paying you for the energy you’re providing.”
He agrees with Bassett that system prices have dropped greatly, but he thinks they’ve stabilized for the near future. “It dropped 75 percent over that past 5 to 10 years, and it’s flattened out over the past couple of years,” he says. “Unless there’s a huge technological leap, the prices will stay approximately the same for several years. So now is the time to buy.”
In addition to the federal tax credit, many state and local municipalities offer their own tax credits for renewable energy sources, so check into those options before installing a system.