The first step to answering your question requires a site survey to be done at your home.
- Many solar installers will do this free of charge.
- They will survey a variety of factors, including the orientation of your home, your roof pitch, tree locations, your home's energy use history, etc.
Factors to consider
Some major factors to consider:
- If your home faces north/south, you are in a better situation for solar panels than a home that is east/west in orientation.
- If your home is surrounded by tall trees, the investment is usually not cost-effective.
- Also, the more yours is anenergy efficient home, in terms of insulation levels, window performance, building envelope air seal, the smaller the solar system needed.
As far as the cost goes, that eventually is determined by you, the homeowner. You have a variety of options available when installing a solar PV (photovoltaic) system.
- You can offset a portion of your electric bill by installing a smaller system, or, you can offset all the power currently used by installing a larger system.
- If you choose the larger system to offset all the energy you use in your 2200 sq. ft. home, you are looking at a ballpark price of at least $30,000.For example, a recent 2500 sq. ft. zero-energy home here in North Texas required a system cost of more than $40,000.
- Keep in mind there are rebates and tax credits that will offset a very large portion of the cost.
Tax credits and other incentives
The federal tax credit for installing your solar PV system covers 30% of the total cost. There is no cap on the amount of money you can spend on the system. For example: If you spend $30,000 on your system, your credit is $9,000. You recover your money for the credit on your federal tax return.
Beyond the tax credits, another source of revenue for your solar system is local utility energy rebates.Many utility companies are offering rebates that help offset the cost of solar energy systems installed by homeowners.
- Since you live in Dallas, your local utility provider is probably Oncor. Visit their website for further details.
- Most utility companies pay out an average rebate of $2.40 per kilowatt installed, which works out to be about 15% of the system cost.
- When you add the 30% from the energy credit and the 15% from the energy rebate, your system is almost half-price.
Some things to consider: If you save $3-4K per year by having no electric bills, it will take a number of years to recoup your investment. Many homeowners take out a home improvement loan for their system to help defer the investment over time while the energy savings accrue by having no electric bills each year.
A real plus: your home value increases the day your system is installed.
For more information:
Check our solar power Q&A to see what other homeowners and contractors are saying about costs and incentives for going solar.