In November 2009, I installed a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on my house and it is the single best financial investment I have ever made. Setting aside for a minute the energy and environmental considerations and focusing solely on the financial aspects of the transaction, the projected return on my investment makes it a great financial decision. However, since using less electricity from the grid while helping the environment is of concern to me, this project is a real winner.
The way the numbers worked out for me:
Number of panels installed: 34
Watts (DC) per panel: 230 Watts
DC rating for system: 7.8 kilo-Watts (kW)
Cost of system: $49,000
Utility Rebate: ($27,000)
Total out of pocket: $22,000
NYS Incentive (25%, 5K cap): ($5,000)
Federal Incentive: ($6,600)
Total out of pocket: $10,400
With the system in place, I save about $2,000 per year in electricity costs leaving me with a $6 electricity bill in most months for the basic service charges. So my investment payback is about five years. Based on the fact that electricity prices are likely to trend up in future years, and that the system should operate for a useful life of 20 to 25 years, I should have a handsome return on this investment for years to come!
How to get started:
1. Determine the incentives which apply to your location. There can be a local utility or authority incentive, a federal incentive and even a state incentive. A single resource to check available incentives for solar in any state can be found at http://dsireusa.org/
2. Look for a few qualified contractors to do a site visit and give you a quote. Your utility may have a list of qualified solar contractors. You may think you’ll be the first one in the neighborhood to consider this but look a little closer and you may find some neighbors are already saving money by using solar power systems.
There are online tools you can use to see if solar power would work on your facility, or to get a rough estimate of the size of the system and the savings potential. For example, if you live in New York City you can go to http://nycsolarmap.com/