Making the Best Economic and Environmental Choice Starts by Figuring Out the Facts

It's sunshine, it's free, it's simple enough-right? With all the dizzying things to consider, from interpreting your power bill and reviewing solar proposals to comparing paying cash with lower-cost offerings, the process of switching to solar can leave a homeowner buried in paperwork. But with the right information, you'll see the light: going solar can be easy, cost-effective and hassle-free.

"Californians know that solar power saves money and cuts global warming. Now homeowners are asking us how to go solar in the most financially responsible way, so they can avoid hidden costs or hassles down the road," said Nat Kreamer, President and COO of Sun Run, the nation's first provider of residential solar service. "We're all concerned about the same things: making smart spending decisions that also help protect our environment."

Drawing from their direct experience talking with homeowners, the solar service experts at Sun Run have developed a list of the top seven questions you'll want answered before you triumphantly watch your meter spin backwards.

  1. I know solar is great for the environment, but I want to know the economic benefits. How do I compare the long-term cost of solar to what I currently pay my utility? With electricity rates rising about 5 percent each year, solar is an excellent way to lock into a low, fixed rate for power. A careful examination of your current utility bill is the first step to going solar. It's important to compare how much you spend on electricity on average to the rate a solar service provider can offer to power your home. It's essential that you examine the total long-term cost to go solar: if you're considering a "no money down" offering, be aware that an escalating monthly rate, a final balloon payment or other hidden fees could significantly increase the total cost. Your provider shouldn't diminish your solar savings by sticking you with hefty fees down the road.
  2. I'm still recovering from sticker shock -- $30,000 to $60,000 to buy a solar system! Can't I go solar and just pay for the power I use like I do the utility? The days of writing a big check to buy solar panels are over. We created the Sun Run Solar Service to offer a lower-cost, higher-value alternative to buying or renting a solar power system. With Sun Run, homeowners pay a low, fixed rate for solar electricity and enjoy free maintenance and monitoring. Sun Run's unique "pay-for-performance" model makes the whole solar process simple and cost-effective, since you only pay for the power generated by the system.
  3. My friends say I'll have to get on the roof and wash my panels. Shouldn't my solar provider do that stuff for me? Putting power hoses aside for a moment, let's remember this isn't another do-it-yourself home project. It's important to find a provider who will take care of your solar system, which requires regular maintenance and monitoring to ensure high performance. Over the life of a system, parts are bound to break or need replacing, such as the inverter (it helps convert the sunlight into clean electricity). At the very least, you could be expected to wash the panels regularly to maintain your warranty. Be sure to ask if all maintenance, parts and repairs are free with your system, or if you'll have to pay an extra fee for those services. With Sun Run, everything is included at no extra cost.
  4. All the system sizes and prices I've been quoted are giving me heat exhaustion. How much solar should I add to my power mix? Basically, you can go hybrid at home or go 100 percent solar. The sun is smart, producing the most power when your daytime utility prices are at their most expensive, so adding solar to your mix can slash how much you pay the utility. For the majority of us, who don't want every square inch of roof covered in solar panels, the best solution is to think of your home like a hybrid car: solar provides the primary environmental and economic benefits, while you occasionally fill up on the cheapest power from the utility. Your solar provider should be able to show you the optimal amount of solar to add to your home's energy mix.
  5. I'm worried about my homeowner's insurance going up. Do I have to insure the solar equipment? Homeowner's insurance may not cover your rooftop panels, and if you do add it to your policy, expect a rate increase. Some solar providers require you to pay to insure the panels, plus provide proof of insurance, which we view as an unnecessary cost and nuisance. Check to see if your solar agreement, like the one Sun Run provides, insures your solar system for you.
  6. Between the solar agreement and other paperwork, I'm going blind from fine print. How can I know what I'm signing? Before signing a solar agreement, you'll want to know if you face any future costs associated with the system. If you're planning to lease or rent solar, watch out for hefty service fees, an excessive buyout price or an annual increase in your monthly payments. Be sure the price you pay for solar stays the same year to year. The cost of sunshine doesn't change, so your price for solar shouldn't go up. At Sun Run, we take care of all the rebates and tax credits, passing the savings on to the homeowner by way of a low, fixed rate for solar power that never goes up.
  7. I'm thinking of solar as an investment in my home. So what happens when I sell the house? It's true: green homes are golden in the current housing market. Just be sure you've got flexible options when you go solar, whether it's adding the value of solar to your home's selling price or assigning your solar service agreement to the new homeowner. Your solar provider should assist you from start to finish and make the transition easy and hassle-free for all parties.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.