Solar power as an alternative way to power our homes has been around for decades. With rising energy costs and the availability of tax incentives, solar power is more affordable and accessible than ever.
Unless you have personal experience with solar power, you might have a lot of questions before investing in solar panels during your home remodel. Like, is it even worth the cost and effort? How do I choose the right solar power system for my home? Or, how does adding solar power to my home affect its value? We’ve put together a guide to answer these questions and start you on the right path to learning about adding solar power to your Pittsburgh home.
Are Solar Panels Worth It in Pittsburgh?
It just so happens that solar panels actually work better in cooler climates. As for your Pittsburgh home specifically, if your roof has plenty of exposure to the sun during most of the day, then it’s worth investing in solar panels. What else is there to know about investing in a solar power system for your home? Plenty!
The Cost of Adding Solar Power to Your Home
According to the most recent 2022 prices in Pittsburgh, the price per 5kW of a solar power system is between $13K to $18K. When you take into account the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), you can reduce that cost by up to 26%.
How long will your solar panels last? They’re built to last 25 years, but if you’re interested in putting your house on the market, newer units will benefit your listing price.
A solar power battery to store the energy from your panels isn’t necessary, but you’ll be grateful during a power outage and require less power from the grid when the sun isn’t shining to store your own power. A battery is a hefty investment but, as you’ll read in this article, will pay for itself in time.
How to Choose the Right Solar Power System for Your Home
Solar power systems come in different sizes dependent on kilowatts (kW). The right size for your home depends on your budget and goals. If you’d like to go for the biggest investment that will offer the biggest return, figure out the amount of energy your home consumes each month on average, then purchase a system that exceeds that amount just enough.
The benefit of doing this is you will end up with a small excess some months and will only need to source power from the grid sparingly in other months. Over the course of a year, you will average close to requiring zero energy from the grid and have an energy bill of only $10-$15–only the utility fee.
To ensure you’re making the most of the solar power system you purchase, and require little to no energy from the utility company, keep an eye on the elements in your home that pull the most electricity. Your HVAC system, washer and dryer, entertainment and computers, and lights are the biggest energy users, in that order. Energy-efficient windows, ENERGY STAR appliances, and LED bulbs will be big contributors to saving electricity and making the most of your solar power investment.
How Solar Panels Will Affect Your Average Monthly Electric Bill
With the right size solar power system, your energy bill every month could very well be only the cost of the utility fee. If this is your goal, be sure to talk to a solar panel company to determine your usage and the size of the system you’ll need. To determine your usage, you can simply check with your utility company for an annual average of use.
What if your solar panels are creating more energy than they use? You can “sell” your excess energy back to the grid. The utility company will handle this via net metering. Net metering is calculated by taking the kilowatt-hours that get sent to the grid versus the energy that you draw from the grid when your panels aren't creating enough energy to power your home.
At the end of the month, if you’ve drawn more energy than you’ve created, then you’ll be billed for the difference. However, if you have credit left over at the end of the month, you can use it the next month.
Tax Credits and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates
Solar power tax credits are available in every state now with the federal solar tax credit that will give you 26% of all costs associated with the installation. In Pittsburgh, you can also take advantage of selling your Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), making solar power even more affordable.
How SRECs work is a little complicated. Fortunately, solar companies will likely register your solar panels and connect you with an aggregator, which is like a broker. The aggregator will sell your SRECs every month to utility companies, who benefit from tax breaks via this system as well. This system is akin to the stock market in that the value of your SRECs will fluctuate with the market.
Investing in solar power in Pennsylvania means you can take advantage of the tax break and also sell your SRECs. So even if the upfront cost is steep, you’ll recover your investment.
Does Adding Solar Power to Your Home Increase Its Value?
According to Zillow, 80% of home buyers are interested in energy-efficient homes and will sell for an average of 4% higher than comparable homes. Some factors that would affect just how valuable a solar power system would be for reselling your home include the age of the system, how much utilities cost in your area, how large the system is and how much energy it will produce.
How much does solar add to home value? The return on investment (ROI) for a solar panel system is fairly dependent on the size of the system, with larger systems having a ROI of more than twice that of smaller ones. For example, a 4kW system will have a ROI of about $23K while an 8kW system will have a ROI of $48K on average.
Add Solar Power Panels to Your Home Remodel Plans
As you plan for your Pittsburgh home remodel, consider adding a solar power system in addition to the other improvements. Solar power offers mounds of benefits that last for decades.
Master Remodelers is your design-build resource for energy-efficient forward design. Contact Master Remodelers to schedule a consultation and discuss how your home can reach its energy-efficient potential.