Go Solar. When people wonder how they can have a more environmentally friendly home, the first thought often is solar power. Any why not? The sun's energy is free and panels generate no pollution when they operate.
Solar power--either photovoltaic panels to make electricity or solar hot water--can indeed make a lot of sense, but here are a few things you should consider.
First is your sun resource. If your roof is in the shade for most of the day, don't bother. Some companies like Sungevity let you get a quick idea of whether it's even worth considering. Next is cost. In general, solar electric panels are expensive and can take 10 to 15 years to pay back. Solar hot water has a quicker payback and a lower up-front cost.
However, the cost equation is changing fast. Companies like SolarCity, SunRun, Clean Power Finance, and even some municipal programs offer different financing options that cut the upfront costs. Your installer should be able to tell you what sort of state and federal incentives there are. The price of the actual products is also going down as well, making a decision to go solar easier for both financial and environmental reasons.
April 20, 2009 4:00 AM PDT
Photo by: Martin LaMonica/CNET
| Caption by: Martin LaMonica
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