Free energy from the sun and lower electric bills…Where do I sign up? The benefits of installing rooftop solar panels may seem like a no-brainer, but the reality is, not every home (and homeowner’s situation) is always right for solar.
There are several factors to consider before pulling the trigger on a rooftop solar system, like determining if your home will receive enough sun to achieve your goals, finding the right contractor, negotiating contracts and other important details. Investing in solar for your home is a major decision. If you’re considering rooftop solar, Halifax EMC can help.
Here are eight questions to consider before installing rooftop solar panels.
1. What are my goals? If your primary goal is to save money on electric bills, you may be able to achieve this through our free energy audit program, which can identify areas of the home for maximum energy savings. There are many simple and affordable improvements that can help you reduce your current demand for energy:
• Checking for and repairing leaky duct work
• Adding insulation
• Purchasing ENERGY STAR® appliances and electronics
• Changing your water heater temperature setting by reducing the temperature little by little until you find it getting too cool
• Resetting your thermostats and setting your fan to “auto” mode (setting the heat at 68°F and cooling at 76°F can significantly reduce your energy costs)
• Caulking around windows and door frames
2. Is my roof suitable for solar? Your roof should be in good condition before installing solar panels. If your roof is old and in poor shape, it may need to be replaced before panels can be mounted. Additionally, your roof should receive a lot of sun to make the most of a rooftop system. Consider how much sun (and shade) the roof receives and if any trees will need to be removed. Solar panels perform best when facing south, so keep this in mind as you think about where the panels will be mounted.
3. How long will I own the home? If you’re considering rooftop solar, you’re likely planning to stay in the home for several years. But if you plan to sell the home at some point down the road, consider that not all potential buyers will want to maintain a rooftop solar system. If you enter a contract to lease the system, carefully review the terms and what those mean if you decide to sell the property.
4. Lease or purchase? Purchasing a rooftop solar system outright is expensive, which is why many homeowners opt to lease their solar panels. However, federal tax credits can help cover some of the costs for a new system, up to 30%. Visit dsireusa.org for current incentives. Regardless of how you decide to finance the solar system, make sure you get several quotes from qualified contractors.
Speaking of contractors, there are several factors you’ll want to discuss with them upfront.
5. Can the contractor provide up-to-date documentation? It may seem obvious but be sure to request proof and documentation of the contractor’s licensing, permitting and other credentials. Comb through company reviews, check the contractor’s status with Better Business Bureau, etc. — do your homework on the front end before signing a contract.
6. Does the contract seem reasonable and fair? If you decide to hire a contractor to install rooftop solar, carefully read the fine print of the contract. Do the system performance calculations seem realistic? Does the project timeframe sound reasonable? Negotiate the contract terms to fit your goals and needs.
7. Who will maintain the solar panels? Determining who is responsible for maintaining the solar panels will depend on who owns the system. If you lease the system from a solar installer, it may be their responsibility. Periodically, solar panels need to be cleaned as dirt and debris can impact panel productivity. Parts may also need to be replaced, so it’s important to know who will take on these responsibilities.
8. How will I work with Halifax EMC? Finally, but equally important, you should contact Halifax EMC if you decide to install solar. The system must be connected to the electric grid, so you’ll need to sign an interconnection agreement. We can walk you through the steps, including how our solar rates and fees work. Visit our renewable energy page for a general overview of how you can work with us on connecting your new rooftop solar system.
For many homeowners, solar panels are a great way to help the environment and save on electric bills — but there
are many factors to consider before diving in and installing a system. As with any major home project, do plenty of research upfront, and contact Halifax EMC if you have questions or decide to move forward with installation. We’re your local energy partner and can serve as a helpful resource throughout the process.