Thank you for taking the time to consider if solar power can achieve your personal, financial, and environmental goals. Solar energy can be a great way to obtain clean energy without spending more money, but before going solar, there are some things to think about.
- Most importantly, consider home energy efficiency measures first. For example, what R-Value is your attic insulation? At a minimum, your attic should be R-38. The more energy efficient your home is, the less solar your home will need, thus saving you money when it comes to sizing your solar system. The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) provides helpful tools and information regarding energy efficiency, including home energy advisors to help you find the energy efficiency opportunities that are right for your family.
- What is your home’s solar exposure? The roof should be unobstructed by rooftop equipment and unshaded by trees or buildings. Ideally, the solar system should be oriented south to maximize solar exposure.
- What is the condition of your roof? The typical life of a solar system is 25 years or more. A roof that is 10-15 years old or is showing wear (curling shingles, uneven, dark spotting) may not be appropriate for solar, and you may need to factor in additional costs, such as roof replacement, before going solar.
- If your home is not suitable for solar or you don’t own a home — community solar (solar gardens) may be a good alternative. Community solar allows residents to go solar even if you do not own property to place your own system. Even better, the State of Colorado allows for virtual net metering, which enables any excess electricity of your subscribed portion of the off-site solar system to be credited to your electric bill.
Incentives and Financing Options
Homeowners will find many incentives when going solar, including the Federal ITC 30% credit, net-metering, and many others. While the initial cost of solar has been a barrier in the past, there are now options which include little to zero up-front costs and low-interest solar loans. The State of Colorado allows for third-party financing, which empowers homeowners to lease their solar system. There are advantages and disadvantages in owning versus leasing your solar system, and it is important to understand what the best option is for your home. Energy Sage is an excellent resource for learning more about solar financing options and helps you decide if owning or leasing is best given your unique circumstances.
In addition, Adams County has participated in group-purchase programs, also known as bulk-purchasing or solarize, that bring down the cost of rooftop systems through bulk purchase savings. Typical cost savings resulting from bulk-purchasing programs can range from 10-20%. The county continues to explore the demands and opportunities to offer similar programs again in the future.
Choosing a Solar Contractor
The solar contractor handles the solar permit process and actions needed for interconnecting with your utility. There are two options when choosing a solar contractor: Choose a local company or choose a larger national company. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but to help inform your decision, see Lets Go Solar’s: Finding the Right Solar Panel Installer, which also provides a list of questions you should ask your potential solar contractor.
To learn about the general process of installing solar and what to expect, see The 5 Step Process. Finally, it is most important to receive multiple quotes. To help with this process, Energy Sage Solar Marketplace created a platform that pre-screens over 300 installers for providing competing quotes to save you time and money.
The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association maintains a list of active PV contractors for our area.