Deciding which home improvement projects to pursue can be a difficult decision, especially when homeowners are concerned about the long-term returns of each one. Solar panels have been touted as a great way to not only raise the cost of the property but also to save money on utility bills and increase the energy-efficiency of a home. But as nice as that sounds, the cost of installing panels may make many hesitate to take the plunge. Learn more about the true costs and savings so it's easier to make a decision.
Installing Solar Panels
There are a few basic things to note about solar panels before making a decision on whether or not they're a good fit for a home:
- Installation cost: Depending on the homeowner's province, solar panels can cost anywhere between $15,000 – $30,000. Full costs are determined by how large the home is and which vendor is used.
- Tax incentives: The exact tax incentives homeowners receive from solar panels will again depend on the province the property is located in. Most provinces will allow for some type of incentive though, which can reduce the installation costs significantly.
- Recouping the money: Homeowners will need to live in the home anywhere between 7 – 20 years before they can recoup the cost of the panels via electricity savings. Your number is determined by how much light the home receives and how efficient the actual panels are.
Improvements in Solar Panels
The advancements in solar panels are truly remarkable, opening up the technology to millions of homeowners who may have otherwise been priced out of the market. As it is, the costs have already come down by more than half of their original prices. Even with the cloud coverage in many parts of Canada, solar panels offer a tremendous opportunity to owners. And solar panels are only expected to become more efficient in the upcoming years. According to the Canadian Solar Industries Association, homeowners should be able to recoup the costs of the panels in as few as five years—with or without a subsidy.
Understanding Solar Panel Installation Incentives
These kinds of optimistic projections have had cities considering how they can use solar panels to their city-wide advantage. It's also made them want to work with homeowners who embrace a new way of powering their homes. The most common incentive for homeowners is a net meter program offering financial incentives to owners who generate more energy than they consume. Power companies may either credit future bills or send a cheque made out to the homeowners. In Ontario, each extra kW hour produced is worth $.54, though rates will vary depending on the province. Considering the rates of electricity are rising about 2% each year, solar panels can provide saving and additional income in a number of ways.
Community Power as an Alternative to Home Solar Panels
For homeowners who may not want to make such a drastic change in their home, they may be able to turn to community solar as a potential alternative. This practice refers to purchasing solar panels in bulk and grouping them together to provide extra power for the whole neighborhood. It not only lowers everyone's costs for power, but the clustering of solar panels allows them to produce more power with less sunlight. This practice is still fairly rare across all of North America, but there's no reason that activists in communities can't push for change. As more and more city officials learn through trial and error, it will become easier to set up community solar to ensure that more people have access to green energy.
What's Ahead for Solar Power
Some studies have estimated that solar panels increase a home's value by up to 4%, which can be an extra incentive for homeowners to install their panels. If they're installing a particularly efficient brand of panels or they live in an area with more light, they may even see additional returns in the next few years. Experts predict that all of our power will start to shift toward more environmentally friendly energy sources, so panels are really an investment in the future. In fact, many believe that homeowners will put their homes on full battery systems by 2025 so they're never without power. But regardless of what the new trends will be in the future, solar panels do offer concrete benefits to homeowners both today and tomorrow.
There are plenty of reasons to try for some type of solar power for a Summerside home, whether it's individual panels or a community-wide effort. Not only is it an excellent way to cut down on our collective carbon footprint, but it's also a way to get more money back into a homeowner's pocket over time.
By Justin Havre