Six Simple Steps to Go Solar

Solar House

Via Flickr

According to Modernize, solar energy systems are a smart solution for home and business owners who want to save money and become more self-sufficient. But getting solar energy in your home isn’t as simple as calling up an installer. You have to research, plan, and decide on your equipment and service provider out of a myriad options. It’s best to take a step-by-step approach so that you will know what to expect and can make a wise decision that will benefit you for decades to come.

1. Rule out the Obstacles

Don’t worry about the cloudy or cold days in your area—many buildings in regions that don’t get much sun can still use solar systems to turn their radiant heat into energy. Certain aspects of your house, however, could stand in the way of your solar module. For example, if you’re renting a property, you’ll have to convince the owner that solar will be profitable and worth the investment or potential damage. If your yard is heavily shaded by trees or by another building, or if you don’t have a large expanse of south-facing roof, then a solar system will not be able to perform its job properly. These are things you’re going to want to think about and research before you move forward.

2. Upgrade Your Appliances

The point of solar is to make your home’s energy needs more cost-friendly—but solar isn’t the only way to do this. Solar can better supply your home’s energy needs if you do what you can to lessen them before you even install a system. Use LED lights, outdoor solar lighting, and low-flow fixtures on your showerheads and faucets. Replace worn-down, inefficient appliances like an old dryer or dishwasher.

3. Bring in a Pro

If all looks well and it’s time to start pursuing your solar energy system, the next thing you’re going to want to do is bring in a professional to complete a home energy assessment. This is not only essential to know what type of equipment you will need, but is also often a prerequisite of receiving tax credits and rebates. This assessment will let you know if your home can truly support the installation of a solar system.

4. Research Tax Credits and Financing Options

Before you get to far into the process, you’re going to want to make sure that your system will meet all of the qualifications for incentives and tax credits. This will take a chunk out of your investment and decrease the time it will take for your system to back for itself in monthly savings. Research financing options provided by banks and solar companies in order to make the most informed decision.

5. Understand the Advantages of On-Grid and Off-Grid

While off-grid systems provide greater independence from utility companies, they also require a costly battery and, more importantly, do not qualify for many of the tax credits and incentives. On-grid means you are still dependent on the utility company; the unused energy you generate goes to the company rather than into your battery for later use. But the perk is that you have access to traditional electricity when your system isn’t working, such as when the sun goes down. You will also qualify for the vital financial assistance offered by the government.

6. Contact an Installer

Getting a solar energy system includes plenty of preparing and research, but at some point you just have to dive in. Contact a reputable installer to get a free installation estimate and talk about the equipment you’re going to need and how it will function. Ultimately, choosing your equipment and installer will come down to your unique needs and what works best for your home.

About the author

Tim Smith is a former contractor who writes about home improvement and energy efficiency topics for Tim loves spending time with his family and loves DIY projects.