When you ask most people about solar energy, they might tell you that it’s sort of like driving a Prius – everything is great until the battery needs to be replaced. Surely, there must be a catch somewhere. The panels must break easily, not really produce what they say they will produce, or even worse, damage the roof.
So when a company tells you that you can have solar panels installed on your roof for free, it really sounds doubtful.
Sun Run, a solar company that offers solar in 15 states, disagrees. But then again, those solar panels are not exactly yours either. Here is how the deal works: Sun Run agrees to install and maintain an array of solar panels on your roof at no cost to you now, or at any point. Sun Run then collects the government subsidy for using solar energy, and in exchange, you get a discount on your energy bill. How much of a discount? Well as it turns out, not much. The typical homeowners’ utility bill will decrease by ten percent. However, Sun Run limits its annual rate increase to 2.9 percent, as oppose to the average utility company’s annual increase of 6 percent. In essence, Sun Run is renting space on your roof and offering you a discounted energy bill as payment.
So free, really? In a sense, yes. But because you don’t own those panels, you can’t ever enjoy the real benefits of going solar – which is the freedom of no longer being dependent on the power company, or being subjected to their rate increases. Even in tie-in states, where complete disconnection from the grid is not legal, with the right solar array, you can remain connected to the grid, and have a zero bill. You will still have to pay the yearly connection fee, however, which is typically around seven dollars.
So what’s the best option? It really all comes down to finances. If you can afford to buy a solar system, you will certainly see more than a ten percent decrease in your utility bills. Better yet, some companies, like Sun Tec, in Florida offer attractive financing options designed to be offset by the savings in utility bills – in effect the system pays for itself. And once it is paid off, you can enjoy the low utility bills that come with solar energy. Even more compelling, that solar system that you install on your roof, according to a recent Appraiser’s Journal article, will increase your home’s value by $20,000 for every $1000 it saves you in utility bills annually.
On the other hand, companies like Sun Run do pave the way for solar energy to become more the mainstream. Not everyone can afford a solar system, or will qualify to finance one, and Sun Run offers a viable option to reduce your carbon footprint, and save a little money at the same time. In the end, whichever way you go, the planet wins.
This article is brought to you by ASAP Roofing, a national roofing company that specializes in hail damage, weatherization, and roofing insurance claims. ASAP has offices in Dallas, Denver, and Salt Lake City.