Converting the sun's energy into electricity isn't for everyone. However, roof-mounted solar panels need exposure to sunlight at least five hours a day to be effective and the skies over Las Cruces are a perfect fit. If your electric bills are high, and your home gets plenty of direct sunlight, then solar panels might be a sustainable, clean, efficient resource for you to consider. With a fairly-recent expanded federal tax credit for solar panel systems, installing a system has never been more affordable.
Prior to the updated tax incentive, the average cost of installing solar panels was $29,120 and even cheaper in places like Arizona and California where electricity is expensive, sunshine is plentiful, and solar power has gained more traction, but the tax credit was capped at $2,000.
Now, after an increased tax incentive, any system installed between January 2009 through December 2016, is eligible for tax credit equal to 30% of the cost. This means that the tax credit for an average system is now just over $13,000 vs only $2,000 prior to 2009. That is an extra $11,000 in savings and this does not include any local and state incentives. You can search the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency for state and local incentives.
The tax break can be applied to a solar-panel system installed at your primary residence or second home. Take the credit for the tax year the system becomes operational. Use IRS Form 5695. The credit can't exceed the total amount owed in federal taxes for that year, but it can carry over to future years. Save receipts and certification statements.
A typical residential system should lower your electric bills by 25% to 50% and the average household pays about $100 a month for electricity, according to the Energy Department. This means a solar-panel system should save you between $300 and $600 a year!
The payback period will vary greatly depending on where you live, the size of your system and its post-incentives price tag, and future swings in electricity costs and consumption rates. Plan on it taking anywhere from six to 18 years. Solar panels have a life span of 20 to 30 years.
Producing excess energy can accelerate how quickly you'll recoup your investment. A battery can store extra electricity for later use, or you can sell surplus energy back to the utility company in a practice called net metering. Many cities have net metering in place, but check with your utility company before you install solar panels.
Installing solar-panels has a pretty steep upfront cost so before considering a system you should try smaller, less-costly solutions to make your home energy efficient first. If you still want save money on bills and buying an entire solar panel system could be overkill for you. We have created a Do-It-Yourself Energy Audit for you to help you out in this regard.
For those in the Las Cruces area start your solar power journey with Positive Energy.