With a growing number of homeowners looking to save money on power bills and help the environment, rooftops across America are taking on a new look, as more homes are dotted with solar panels. But it’s important to ask the right questions before installing them on your home.
“While there are tremendous benefits to solar energy, consumers should be sure they are working with a qualified provider, getting a quality product that’s customizable, and right for their home and situation,” says Doug Robinson, CEO of LGCY Power, a solar provider. “There are great resources out there such as SolarProviders.org that will walk you through the process of determining what solar is right for you.”
To help make the right decision, Robinson suggests asking your energy consultant the following questions:
• What are your credentials? Learn whether you’re working with a company with expertise in the field — how long has it been in business, and how many solar installations has the company performed to-date? You should also do your research about the company’s track
record in satisfying customers.
• Do you have a national presence? Local operations don’t necessarily have the resources or partnerships with solar panel manufacturers to be successful long-term. Sticking with national companies can be a safer bet.
• What financing options are available? One size does not fit all so there should always be multiple options when it comes to financing. In some cases, you can even get solar systems for free. The key is researching options to find what’s best for you and your situation. If there aren’t financing options, that is a sign that you should walk away and find another solar provider.
• How long will it take to begin realizing savings on my energy bill? It depends on your market and the size and type of system you get. Some consumers see an immediate savings and some see more long-term savings. On average people can save about 30 percent on their energy bill. There are ways to customize a system that will accommodate the individual needs of most consumers and in some cases, you can even get a solar system installed at no cost to you.
• Are there tax incentives available? Your energy consultant can help you identify what federal and state tax incentives are available to you. Taking advantage of tax breaks can help make the upfront cost of solar installation more manageable.
• Which manufacturers do you use? Ensure the equipment manufacturer will be around long enough to honor its warranties. Find out what brand of panels, inverter, and batteries you’ll receive and if there are third-party reviews or tests of them to verify their quality.
• How does maintenance work? Find out how often your system requires maintenance and if it is covered by a warranty.
• What are the next steps? What is the process from signing the agreement to installation? How long does this take?
Solar energy is not only a smart move for the planet, it’s a smart move for your wallet, with the potential to save your household considerable money over the long run. But making an informed decision is crucial. Ask the right questions for the greatest benefits.