As solar panel prices decline and technology improves, installing a residential solar system makes sense for some members. However, it’s important to find out the facts before committing to a purchase. Consider these points as you explore whether solar is right for your situation.
Make Your Home More Energy Efficient Before Buying a Solar System
Adding insulation, sealing air leaks, and completing other projects can cut your energy costs immediately, and you’ll also be able to reduce the size of the solar system you purchase.
Research, Research, Research Before Buying
JOEMC should be one of your first contacts. Experts at your co-op can answer basic questions, provide resource materials, and direct you to reputable contractors.
Understand How Your Solar System Works with Our System
Most solar systems are designed to provide you with a portion of the electricity you need. At night, on cloudy days and possibly at high-energy-use times, you’ll need more power than your system can produce. That means you’ll still be connected to our power lines. Make sure you and your contractor understand the appropriate policies for connecting to our grid and for specifics on purchasing any excess energy your system might provide and if we can purchase your excess solar generation.
Review Your Energy Use So You Can Determine What Size Solar System to Install
Our staff can help you review your energy use and help you determine how the projects you’ve undertaken to improve energy efficiency may help lower your future energy use. This information will help you determine the size and type of solar system best suited to your situation. Buying a solar system that is too big for your home will increase your costs and reduce your chances of recouping your investment.
Tally Upfront Costs
If you purchase a solar system, you will be the owner, and you’ll be responsible for the purchase price and ongoing maintenance and repairs. It pays to spend time figuring out all the expenses you’ll be responsible for during the system’s life. These include the cost of the system, installation, interconnection costs, insurance, taxes, and possibly other costs.
Search for Incentives, Rebates, and Tax Credits
Opportunities vary by location. One database offering details is dsireusa.org. This site includes federal and state incentives, credits, exemptions, grants, loans, and rebates. The most widely available incentive is the federal income tax credit. Discuss with your tax advisor to determine how this affects your income taxes.
Accept Short-Term and Long-Term Responsibilities
In the short term, you’ll need to meet our interconnection agreement’s requirements, including paying any costs of connecting to our grid. Also, before installation, you must contact your town and/or county agencies to conduct a safety inspection. Long-term, you’ll be responsible for maintenance and system repairs.
Follow All Safety Precautions
Improper connection and system maintenance may endanger people and the grid’s reliability. Be sure to have a safety inspection done and follow all safety precautions.
Choose a Reputable Contractor
When reviewing potential contractors, check out other installations the contractor has completed, compare at least three bids, check references and thoroughly examine contracts. If possible, ask an attorney to review the contract before signing. If a contractor tells you it will be free, choose another contractor.
Maintain Good Records
Keep files on your pre-purchase research and pre-installation data provided by your co-op, as well as bids, contracts, inspection reports, maintenance records, and all other details you have collected. In addition, set up a system to track and compare your actual system performance with predictions provided by the contractor.
Installing a home solar system is a big decision, like any major investment. As your local energy partner, we’re here to help you make the best decision to suit your lifestyle and budget.