We all know that the future is in renewables, so how do you get on board? Solar power is rapidly becoming one of the most easily accessible ways to power your home sustainably, but what you might not know is that there are plenty of options for going solar. As supporters of all things environmental, we at Rust and Fray are providing you a mini-guide so you can choose the best way for you to support solar.
The first and most painless option is to switch power providers to ones that promote solar power, such as Green Mountain Energy or Clean Choice Energy. When most people think about their electric bill, the people who run your actual utility are the people who also pay power plants to generate that electricity for you. However, in certain area with deregulated electricity markets, those are two separate items on your bill, and you can change the power provider. Now, electricity can’t be “stored,” so when you turn on your light in your house, you’re getting whatever electricity is available at the moment. But when you’re charged for your monthly electric bill, your money will be going to a solar plant (or a wind farm) instead of something like a coal plant. This way, you’re able to “vote with your dollar” for renewables and all it takes is a phone call.
Pros: Ridiculously easy, very inexpensive, you don’t need to worry about installation.
Cons: Only available in some areas. “Your” electricity won't be green.
Buy Your Own Solar Panels
The second is what most people think of when they think about solar power, which is getting solar panels. If you have the money, you can just buy the solar panels upfront. While expensive (approximately fifteen thousand), you will get a nice federal and state tax credit for it and it’ll pay for itself the fastest. Many states even include net metering ideas, where any electricity you don’t use is fed back into the public grid and your electric bill gets additionally reduced by that amount. So in the long term it’s the clearest economic choice, but it’s also the least accessible option. But if you do have the money to burn, you can even afford cool tech, such as solar panel roof tiles.
Pros: Best economic choice in the long run and you can buy fancy futuristic versions.
Cons: Costs quite a lot of money upfront.
Solar Loan and Solar Lease
If you want solar panels, but don't have the money to install upfront, the final option is to get solar loans or a solar lease. Both of these options mean that you can get the solar panel installed in your home without the fifteen-thousand or more it costs to buy and install the panels up front. Of the two, solar loans tend to be the better deal but they only work if you have well established credit and you need collateral (usually your home) or you’ll be facing high interest rates. But in return you get all the immediate savings and tax benefits of going solar and the solar panels will be yours once the loan is paid off.
Alternatively you can lease the panel from a company such as SolarCity, and so you’ll have the solar panels for an agreed upon amount of time but you don't own it. You can either pay rent for the panels or pay the company that owns the panels for the electricity it makes. Fair warning, solar leasing contracts also mean that the company will get the all the tax benefits and the solar credits. You can read more about solar credits here, but basically through an Obama era green energy credit system, if a power company’s facilities aren’t green enough, they can pay for your solar panel instead of improving their facilities. Not the best system, but it still gets more sustainably produced energy out in the world overall.
Pros: Very little to no money upfront and plenty of ways to do it.
Cons: Need to carefully scan the fine print and make sure you know what your getting.
Thank you for reading, hopefully this article helped you decide what’s the best way to get solar power to your homes. If you liked this article and want to read more, be sure to check out our Instagram, Facebook, and our website.