Solar Offers Powerful Advantages to Homeowners

Solar panels on a roofYou can use solar power to heat your home, your water heater, your pool, or to generate electricity. No longer the bulky technology of its first incarnation, modern solar comes from slender panels, in the form of roof shingles or facades. They can be quite elegant, increasing the beauty of a home as well as its energy efficiency.

Myths about Solar

The uninitiated might guess that solar doesn’t work very well because once its dark, they stop working.  But in daylight hours, the panels collect more energy than a typical household can use. If unused, this energy can in some states be sold or credited back to the owner, generating not just energy then, but income as well.

As to darker, colder climates, well,  PlanetSave said is best: “The fact that Germany is the world’s largest solar market is proof that solar power can flourish in cold climates.” Because the sun generates such power, it cuts right through clouds and reaches solar panels regardless of clear skies or cloudy ones.

Solar newbies might also fear the systems are complex and hard to maintain, visions of paying for experts to come set them up, clean them, and fix them repeatedly, draining any possible savings away. But take comfort, newbies. Consumer reports on solar show the systems rarely fail, and the 25-year warranty offered by most companies attests to their reliability. However, these warranties cover different things, so as a smart consumer, you should carefully do your homework to ensure you know what you’re buying, and what protection you have as well as what kind of technical knowledge you might (or might not) need to make your life with solar an easy one.

Solar’s Value to You and Your Home

Solar systems are expensive (prices vary depending on the type, size, and location you purchase, but none come cheaply). Of course then, you’d want assurance that your investment will pay off. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, homes with solar “sell at up to twice the rate of their conventional counterparts.” James Kriel, a contractor and licensed real estate appraiser working in Texas, says that you can calculate solar energy’s value to you home using your monthly bill. “For every $1 of electricity offset through solar, the home’s value increases by $10-$20, depending on the community’s understanding of/appetite for solar power.”

Think also about the long term investment as gas and electricity become more expensive. Every time traditional utility rates go up, so does the value of a solar powered home, both in the monthly savings and in the price that home can command on the market.

Looking for Solar Power in a Home for Sale?

Like you-- if you’re still reading this article-- I was interested in finding a home with solar features. Using ZipRealty’s home search feature, I chose my city, my neighborhood, and then entered “solar” in the keyword search. Keep in mind when you get your results that you may need to click the extended listing, not just the blurb, to find what features are solar. For example, these MLS listings in Sacramento, CA don’t say anything about solar in the thumbnails even though I used “solar” as a keyword, but in the extended listings (often under “Additional Information” and “Energy Features”), you find those details.

You can also ask your Realtor® to help you find a solar powered home, since real estate agents often know of upcoming listings with special features—even before those listings hit the MLS.

So get out there and enjoy the sunshine this summer. As a homeowner, you have more reasons than ever.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert.