Thinking about going solar?
How does it work?
There are two basic types of residential solar installations: thermal and photovoltaic. Thermal systems use the sun to heat air or water, while photovoltaic systems make electricity. Avery and Sun specializes in photovoltaics, or "PV." This is how it works:
Sunlight hitting a solar panel on your roof creates DC electricity. An inverter changes the DC to AC current, the kind you use in your house, and ties it directly into your existing electrical service. During the day your system normally produces more electricity than you use, so the excess current turns your electric meter backwards! (Your neighbors will be using it.) At night and on cloudy days, when your lights and appliances are running, your meter will run forward again, using the "credit" you have accrued on sunny days. You may still pay an electric bill if you use more electricity than you generate, but it will be much lower. Some PV systems also have a battery back-up that provides energy when the grid goes down, but there are advantages and disadvantages--including a much higher cost. We'll help you figure it out.
Will it save money?
Yes. The answer a couple of years ago would have been "Maybe." Now the answer is a definite "Yes." Equipment costs for solar energy have come way down and the 30% federal investment tax credit offers additional savings. It is also possible to sell credits from the solar energy you produce, called Solar Renewable Energy Credits or SRECs, while still letting you use it! The value of SRECs sold in Kentucky is low now but will go up again when market conditions become more favorable.
Instead of paying for energy every month, you will be investing several thousand dollars up front. But good solar equipment is guaranteed for 20-25 years, and if installed properly will last twice that long, with virtually no maintenance. The "payback period" on panels installed in this area is estimated to be 10-12 years, or less, and the money to pay comes primarily what you would otherwise pay for electricity, i.e., energy savings. Once the system is paid for, the electricity you produce is essentially free and you will pay only the minimum electric bill each month, currently at $10.75.
The 30% federal tax credit, now extended in full to 2019 then gradually becoming less, means that if you spend $10,000 on a PV system you will get $3,000 off your taxes. That's not a deduction, it's a credit, so if you owe $5,000 in taxes, you will have to pay only $2,000. More importantly, the price of electricity is likely to increase very rapidly in the coming years, and you will have already bought up to 50 years of it.
Solar energy today yields a positive return on investment. And most important of all is you will not be spending money that pollutes the air, strips mountain tops, depletes limited resources, and warms the climate. Instead, you will be voting with your dollars for renewable energy and helping to promote a more sustainable world for the future.
Will it help the environment?
Absolutely. While currently some fossil fuels are used in producing solar equipment, once installed solar energy consumes no fossil fuels, causes no water or air pollution, and releases no carbon emissions. It is the cleanest form of energy available. If you are conscious of how you use electricity, and willing to make lifestyle changes, a well-designed and adequately sized PV system can provide all of your household electricity needs. In the coming years plug-in hybrid vehicles will make it possible to use solar power for transportation!
The real advantage of solar is not what it does for your pocket book, but what it does for your mind and your soul. You will think about it and talk about it with friends and neighbors. You will notice what your electric meter is doing. When you are generating your own energy directly from the sun you will not just be using less of a bad thing, you will be creating more of a good thing. Amidst all the doom and gloom we so often see in the news, you will have practical experience with a real solution, and you will have a vision of where our society can go if it chooses to.