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The Reliable

Can Home Solar Power Work for You?

There has been encouraging news in recent years with the cost of solar panels dropping across the country. According to EnergySage.com, federal incentives still stand at 30 percent of the cost of solar installations, so there are many reasons to see if this clean energy source can power the electrical needs of your home (and possibly a car). Here's some help finding out if home solar power could work for you.

Favorable Factors for Solar Power

Homeowners will have to weigh the cost of solar panel installation against the potential for energy production when deciding if the project makes sense. Full payback of solar installations can take anywhere from 5 to 20 years, depending on a variety of factors at your home. What works for a certain house in Alpharetta may not apply to a home in Sandy Springs, and vice versa.

The first point to check is whether your home is south facing and free of obstructions that would block sunlight from hitting panels on your roof. To be able to power the appliances and HVAC equipment inside a home, you need at least 100 square feet of roof space where contractors can situate solar panels.

Other concerns include the age of your home and your family's plans for staying there. Since solar panels are warrantied and may last from 20 to 25 years, you would not want to try a solar installation on a roof older than five years. If you needed to have the roof replaced in the coming decade, you would have to pay extra for the solar panels to be removed and reinstalled. Likewise, it only makes sense to try to recoup your whole investment if you are going to live in your home for at least another five years.

Home Solar Power Incentives and Tests

The federal tax credit for private homes is 30 percent for solar water heaters and solar-electric systems if you install them before the end of 2016. Even though Georgia state incentives have already been maxed out, residents who produce more energy than they use may sell electricity back to the local power grid. Georgia Power is one area company that buys electricity from residential customers. A good place to begin testing your home's viability is by visiting the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) website and entering your address to estimate the potential.

How many panels you choose to install will determine how much energy your home produces. Because the ability to generate more power depends on the amount of panels, larger upfront investments usually generate more long-term savings. Homeowners in the Atlanta area have been able to eliminate the majority of energy costs at home, while using solar energy they've captured to even power an electric vehicle. In that way, transportation costs (i.e., gasoline) could be slashed if you were to power a car on electricity generated by your home's solar panels.

Will solar power make sense for your family? There are many factors to consider, but this clean source of energy is something every homeowner should explore when trying to lower energy bills. Of all the green initiatives, solar power is the cleanest solution yet.

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