Earlier this month, my wife and I attended the solarize Bellevue workshop. Bellevue is the city we live in and this is a program to get more households using solar energy. They had a pretty compelling proposition. First, the program plans to do a group equipment buy, so the homeowners save on the the equipment costs. Sounds good, I like to save money! But it gets even better. The purchase qualifies for a 30% federal tax credit, so you get 30% of you investment back when filing your taxes the following year. That also sounds good. Still, the systems are fairly expensive. The examples ranged from $12-25K or more, so even with a 30% tax credit, that is still a lot of money.
There is also a program in WA state where you can recover your investment through net metering. The solar power you collect feeds back into the grid at a base rate of $0.15/kWh, which is only slightly better than the $0.10/kWh you end up paying to purchase the power back. But, if you purchase solar cells and inverters made in WA State, there are additional incentives, such that you end up receiving a net $0.54kWh produced with a cap of $5,000 per year. They estimate most will make back their investment in 4-5 years. Of course this is dependent on many factors, like how many cells they can put on your house, the direction your roof is facing, and shading, among other factors. But it still sounds like a pretty good deal. If you are in WA, you may want to see if your city is taking part in the the solarize WA program. If not, you should see what incentives are offered in your state. We are going to have our house evaluated and am excited to see the results.