Ask the Expert: 5 Incentives of Residential Solar You Never Thought About

We’re always looking for ways to turn make your home more valuable. That might mean using a HELOC to build an addition or doing some beautiful landscaping to increase your curb appeal. This week we wanted to know how solar panels could make your home more valuable. So we asked the folks at Independent Power Systems to give us the rundown. 

  1. Solar increases your home value.
    According to a recent study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, homes with solar electric systems sell for an average of $15,000 more than homes without. While the U.S. has made great strides since the devastating recession of 2008, the housing market still shows signs of weakness. Investing in a solar electric system (AKA a photovoltaic or “PV” system) will prevent you from having to accept a low-ball offer.
  2. Solar boosts your home aesthetic.
    Your home’s appearance is not only important for your own home value but also increases the value of your neighborhood overall. Solar panels don’t have to be clunky and obvious. Companies like Lumos, based in Boulder, CO, manufacture uniquely translucent solar panels that integrate seamlessly into awnings, pergolas, and car ports. Or, if you’re looking for something more minimalistic, SunPower offers panels with a simple, yet elegant design that masks the intricate wires that lie within. Not to mention, SunPower panels are by far the most efficient on the market today, generating much more power per Watt installed than competing brands. 
  3. Solar saves, and even makes you money. 
    • The 30% Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) 
      Say what? A 30% discount on a multiple thousand-dollar investment seems too good to be true. It’s no joke, but here’s the catch: this incentive expires at the end of 2016, so it’s crucial to act soon. Especially since most solar companies anticipate having installations booked through the end of the year as soon as July 2016.
    • Renewable Energy Credits (REC) 
      This program, currently available in 29 states, essentially turns the extra kWh of energy that your grid-tied system produces into a commodity that it can be sold back to the utility company. Often, PV system owners find that they produce more energy than they use. This excess is sent back out into the grid and the utility company is required to reimburse you for it. Just remember, to qualify for this benefit, you need to fill out paperwork for your residential district.
    • Additional State Incentives 
      Renewable energy rebates and incentives vary from state to state but even the state with the fewest offerings still has 22 opportunities for financial breaks. Find out which ones are available in your state.
  4. Solar combined with battery backup power reduces the need for flood insurance.
    Anyone keeping an eye on the devastating floods in South Carolina and Texas this past fall is no stranger to the financial cost associated with them. Even minor flooding can have major effects on your home. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the average residential flood claim from 2010 to 2014 was a whopping $39,000. Even a flood amounting to just one inch of water in a 2,000 square foot home is estimated to cost $21,000 in damages. In more moderate to minor flooding, a battery backup power with solar system can actually act as a type of flood insurance. Here’s why: 
    • You make money. The average flood insurance policy premium in 2014 was about $700 per year. On the surface, this may seem more appealing than the higher up-front cost that a solar/battery backup system presents. But a backup power system not only helps prevent damage in minor and moderate flooding, it pays for itself within the first 8-15 years. After that you’ll actually make money from the system.
    • You don’t lose your valuables. Even if you get money from insurance riders or flood insurance there are some items, like family photos and heirlooms, that are just irreplaceable. If you can use your system to reduce or avoid damage altogether, then you won’t have to worry about losing those priceless items.
    • Your lights stay on. In stark contrast to flood insurance, a battery backup system keeps your sump pump running at the time of a flood, keeping your family safe, warm, and dry through the storm.

    Remember, it’s important to research the flood insurance policies in your neighborhood. Some areas—particularly those labeled as “high flood risk”—require residents to purchase flood insurance. This isn’t to say that a battery backup system is out of the question. The value of avoiding flood damage altogether may be worth it.

  5. Solar reflects your dedication to social responsibility.
    Climate change is clearly still a highly debated topic in today’s society. Whether you believe in it or not, anyone can appreciate these proven impacts of solar technology:
    Consider this scenario: You purchase a 7.2 kW SunPower solar system for your home. On average, this system will produce 11,020 kWh per year. By switching from traditional energy to a renewable source, this amounts to a reduction of 16,350 lbs of CO2 entering the atmosphere. In other words, each year your solar system helps: 

Clearly, solar energy is highly underrated. The financial benefits are plentiful and it can even boost your social status in many ways. By consulting with a solar contractor in your area, you can determine whether or not solar is the right investment for you.  

Ben Valley has been a Design Consultant with Independent Power Systems for over 3 years and has extensive experience with renewable energy systems. On top of his A.O.S. in Wind Energy Technology, he works closely with the company’s CEO and renewables expert, Tony Boniface, who founded Independent Power Systems in 1996.
To learn more about how solar can benefit your home, contact Independent Power Systems.