Can you afford to install solar panels?

Solar panels are certainly an effective energy source with year-round sunshine in Atlanta. But can you...

Solar panels are certainly an effective energy source with year-round sunshine in Atlanta. But can you afford to install them and recoup the expenses from your reduced energy costs?

Cost of solar panels declining

The green living trend puts more focus on renewable energy, which means technical advances are prevalent. The advances in solar panel production mean declining prices for solar panels. Solar panel installation now typically costs $1,700-$2,500 per kilowatt (kW) of capacity for your photovoltaic (PV) panels. The typical system size for a residential home is about 5 kW. So your average cost for PV panel installation is $8,500 to $12,500.

Potential for recouping expenses varies

Tax credits are always changing, so check for tax deductions or rebates you could receive from your electricity company or the government. Some companies also help their employees with the upfront costs of PV panels.

There is currently a Georgia state tax credit available, the Clean Energy Tax Credit, to cover 35 percent of the PV installation cost up to $10,500. But it might be awhile before you actually see any money from that credit. The program has a long waiting list. A federal tax credit for 30 percent of PV installation costs is available through Dec. 31, 2016. There is no monetary cap on the federal credit.

If you're in West Atlanta and using GreyStone Power, the co-op offers solar energy rebates of $450 per kW of installed capacity, up to $4,500.

For a 5 kW PV panel installation cost of $12,500, you could potentially recoup $3,750 from federal credits and $4,375 in state credits. This would bring your net installation costs down to $4,375 (or $2,125 if you're a GreyStone customer and get that $2,250 rebate).

Potential energy savings high in sunny Atlanta

Energy savings for PV panels and other green roof options are high in Atlanta because of year-round sun. Calculate your current cost for electricity per kilowatt hour (kWh). Be sure to include all related distribution costs. To determine this realistic kWh cost, divide your total bill amount by the number of kW you used that month.

If your 5 kW capacity PV system produces 6600 kWh of electricity that would've cost you 10 cents per kWh, the solar panels will save you $660 annually. Some electricity companies also will buy any excess electricity your system produces, netting more savings.

Installing PV panels is a big decision, but it could save you money in the long-run. Consult an Atlanta remodeling professional for more information on installing solar panels.

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