Going solar can seem complex and expensive, considering it’s a long-term investment. However, there are ways to make the process more affordable and beneficial in the medium to long term. Here are six money-saving hacks to make going solar cheaper.

1) Compare Installer Quotes

The key to obtaining the best price when considering a residential solar installation is understanding the market. Corey Ramsden, vice president for Go Solar programs at Solar United Neighbors, advises consumers to obtain at least three proposals to find a quality installation with the best value.

Negotiation is possible, and comparing multiple quotes is helpful in the process. Ramsden suggests seeking recommendations, checking online reviews, and asking for a cash price in addition to loan financing when considering solar options.

State-based chapters of the Solar Energy Industries Association and CNET’s review library can provide lists of trusted installation firms. Ramsden highlights that the size of the solar company, whether large and nationwide or smaller and locally-focused, doesn’t necessarily dictate their performance.

Some solar companies offer price match guarantees, ensuring competitive pricing. ADT Solar, Tesla Solar, Momentum Solar, Palmetto Solar, and Elevation Solar are among those offering such guarantees.

2) Take Advantage of Solar Incentives 

Various tax credits and incentives are available to reduce the cost of adopting solar energy. The recent Inflation Reduction Act has set the federal residential energy tax credit at a substantial 30 percent, and many states also offer money back or other savings options.

It’s essential to rely on informed and up-to-date installers who are knowledgeable about the incentives available in your area. Be cautious of misleading marketing, especially on platforms like Facebook, that might promise entirely free solar options.

Remember that there will always be costs associated with solar installations, whether it’s through a lease, loan, or cash payment. To verify available incentives, you can refer to North Carolina State University’s database of state incentives for renewables and efficiency (DSIRE) as a reliable starting point.

3) Low-Income Solar Programs and Initiatives

While it’s generally advised to be cautious of claims about free solar, some government programs do offer free solar installations to low-income households. These legitimate programs can be verified using resources like the DSIRE site.

It’s crucial to ensure that the information comes from a trustworthy source. To avoid falling victim to solar scams, it’s wise to read CNET’s guide on the subject before committing to any offers that may seem too good to be true.

4) Solar Discount Programs

Local nonprofits, cooperatives, and community groups often collaborate to create discount or group buying programs for solar installations, aiming to reduce the overall cost. Solar United Neighbors (SUN) operates buying programs in 11 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. Additionally, other organizations in various states may offer similar initiatives.

To explore such programs in your area, consider asking local installers and industry professionals for information and recommendations.

5) Consider Community Solar Installations

Around half of the states have implemented community solar programs, allowing residents to participate in shared solar arrays located within their community. By subscribing to these arrays, residents receive bill credits, reducing their power costs. Community solar aims to provide access to renewable energy for those who cannot install solar panels on their roofs, such as renters or individuals with aging roofs.

Gilbert Michaud, an assistant professor of Environmental Policy at Loyola University Chicago, highlights that only 25% of people have the physical ability to install solar panels on their roofs. For the remaining 75% who are interested in renewable energy, community solar offers a viable solution.

Another option is “solarize” programs, where neighbors collaborate with a single installer to achieve economies of scale, potentially leading to cost reductions of 15-20%.

6) Affordable Solar Leases

Leasing solar panels can be a suitable choice for individuals who prefer not to take a loan or invest their own funds in a solar system.

With a lease, a company installs and maintains the solar array on the homeowner’s roof, retaining ownership of the system. The homeowner either leases the array from the company or purchases the power it generates for a fixed cost. The specific rules governing such agreements vary from state to state.

Leasing is an attractive option for those who want the convenience of having someone else handle the installation and maintenance while enjoying cheaper electricity. However, potential lessees should thoroughly review the lease or power purchase agreement to understand each party’s responsibilities throughout the long-term partnership with the solar company.

It’s important to note that homeowners who choose leasing may not be eligible for federal tax credits and other incentives associated with solar ownership.

Image Source: Jeff Galindo, https://twitter.com/NewDoorRes/status/1692611972196647190/photo/1