People have understood and harnessed the sun’s power for centuries. As early as 700 B.C., humans used sunlight to light fires using magnifying glass materials and the Romans used sunlight to heat their bathhouses.


In the 1950’s solar photovoltaics were developed by the Bell laboratories and in the past couple of decades the pricing of solar has become much more affordable, so more and more homeowners are going solar.


2020 could be the year that you choose to join their ranks. What sort of solar incentives would help you make the decision? Here are some benefits associated with installing a solar energy system at home. (Don’t wait too long because some of them expire soon.)

Benefits of solar panels in Washington.

#1 - The Perfect Energy Backup System

A battery backup system to go along with your solar PV system.

If you purchase a battery backup system to go along with your solar PV system, you have a reliable energy backup system when the electrical grid goes out. In decades past, that was more of a convenience than a necessity. Given the nature of smart homes today, it’s not just a matter of keeping the freezer lid closed in order to avoid spoiling the food. If an outage takes place, it effectively shuts down most of your communication options. You also lose control of the indoor climate and any devices that require power to operate. Some people are reliant on 24/7 medical devices that need a constant electrical source.


If you purchase a battery backup system like the Tesla PowerWall, your home solar energy system can be configured to kick in automatically if there’s an interruption of the power supply from the local grid. At worst, you may experience a few seconds with no power source. Think of what that means in terms of not losing data if you’re reliant upon a medical device or are working on a report or paper, or being able to use online communication tools to find out what caused the power failure.

#2 - More Efficient Than Ever

Solar photovoltaic systems are becoming more efficient each year so you can harvest more energy from the same roof space. This greater energy density means you have more energy to use in your house and to store if you select a battery-backup system.

Solar photovoltaic systems for home.

#3 - More Affordable Than Ever

The cost of purchasing and installing a home solar energy system is more affordable than ever. As solar has become more mainstream, manufacturers overseas and in the US have been able to reduce their costs through economy-of-scale, developing better technology and finding efficiencies. Similarly, solar installers continue to identify best practices which also reduce the costs to consumers.


In 1977, the cost per watt for a solar panel was $76.67. Today most residential solar installations cost less than $3.00 per watt installed!

#4 - Protect Yourself From Future Rate Hikes

Own your electricity instead of renting it!


Many people decide to go solar to protect themselves from increasing electrical rate hikes from the Utilities. Some studies predict Utility costs to go up about 5 percent each year. When you purchase a solar PV system, you lock in your electrical costs for the lifetime of your system (which is typically warrantied for 25-years).


Utility costs are destined to increase in Washington as the pressure on our hydropower system increases in response to a growing population and as Utilities shift away from fossil fuel energy sources. For example, Puget Sound Energy is decommissioning it’s Colstrip coal plants and the Utility will shift some of the transition costs to ratepayers.

Solar roof incentives 2020.

Homeowners save tens of thousands of dollars over decades by owning versus renting their electricity.

#5 - Reducing Your Environmental Footprint

Solar panels reduce environmental footprint.

Washington State has one of the cleanest electrical grids in the US, but even our abundant hydropower comes with an environmental impact that solar can help out with.


Every solar PV system reduces the need for precious water resources to be used to generate electricity. Instead, the water can be used for farming, shared with regions with few hydro resources or eventually, the hydroelectric dams could be removed, resulting in the restoration of salmon runs and their dependant ecosystems.


While there are some environmental impacts related to the raw extraction of the materials used to build solar panels, these impacts are far less damaging to the planet than the extraction processes for toxic fossil fuels like petroleum, coal and nuclear power.


Solar panels are primarily made of recyclable glass, aluminum and silicon and during their working years, typically 25-plus years, solar emits zero carbon unlike it’s fossil fuel electrical generation counterparts.


However, because solar PV has scaled up so rapidly, systematic recycling of solar panels has not yet occurred in the United States but the need is emerging and business models are being developed to extract and repurpose the raw materials.


The panels generate all the electricity used to make them within the first two to three-years of their working life and continue working for decades.

#6 - Take Advantage Of Several Financial Incentives

For homeowners, there is a 26% Federal Tax Credit for going solar. This tax credit is for the entire cost of a solar PV system, the materials, labor, permits and any related electrical or structural work necessary for the installation. This incentive has been available to taxpayers since 2005 (it was originally 30%). It is scheduled to continue to phase out dropping to 22% in 2021 and the incentive expires in 2022, so don’t delay and save yourself thousands.


In Washington State, there is No Sales Tax on the sales of solar PV systems, roughly another 10% savings.


Homeowners can participate in an agreement with their electrical Utility and participate in Net Metering, a program where homeowners receive a 1-1 credit for any kilowatts that are sent to the electrical grid (typically in spring, summer and fall). Homeowners utilize these credits in wintertime to offset their increased electrical use of lights and heating. With this program, many homes are able to become Net Zero over the course of a year.


Finally, check with your electrical Utility to see if they have any additional rebates or incentives for going solar.

Tax incentives for solar panels.

#7 - Increase The Value Of Your Home

Homes with solar sell quicker and sell for more. Several studies have shown that consumers are recognizing the benefits of solar and are willing to pay more for homes with PV systems already installed.


Even if you end up selling your home a few years after going solar, you will likely come out ahead financially as you’ve increased the value of the property and were able to take advantage of the Federal Tax Credit (26% in 2020, 22% in 2021).


Zillow released a report in 2019 showing that homes with solar solar for about 4% more than similar homes without solar.


The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory reported in 2015 that homes with solar solar for about $15,000 more than non-solar homes.

#8 - Excellent Service and Support

Puget Sound Solar installed the first permitted solar PV system in Seattle twenty-years-ago. We’ve watched solar installers manufacturers come and go but we’ve remained solid in our promise to support our customers. Our experience in working with all the technology changes gives us an advantage in diagnosing and repairing any issues that might come up with your system.


Puget Sound Solar offers an industry-leading 25-Year-Workmanship-Warranty, a 10-Year-Performance-Guarantee combined with 24/7 System Monitoring and a dedicated Service Department team.


If you’ve hesitated to go solar because of worries about system maintenance, rest assured we pride ourselves on supporting our customers and we’re here for you.

Puget Sound Solar 25-Year Workmanship Warranty
Puget Sound Solar 10-Year Performance Guarantee
Puget Sound Solar Monitoring and Service Award

#9 - A Renewable Source of Energy

Without solar energy, life wouldn’t exist on our planet. Ironically, there wouldn’t even be any fossil fuels without the existence of the sun. Fossil fuels resources are limited however in just one hour, enough sunlight hits the earth to power the earth for a year.

Solar energy yearly potential.

(image courtesy of Richard Perez, http://asrc.albany.edu/people/faculty/perez/)


Solar is more predictable than wind or rain/hydropower or other forms of renewable energy.

#10 - Sustainability Today and for Future Generations

Solar clearly benefits you now, but it also has a positive impact on future generations. By using clean, renewable energy instead of polluting our environment with carbon emissions from fossil fuels or radiation from nuclear energy, you’re making life better for your children, grandkids and the other generations to follow. The air they breathe, the water they drink will be cleaner because you decided to make a difference.


You can be the first person in your family to show your family, friends and neighbors that you care about the planet. Your solar legacy will live on.


If you’re ready to become a part of the solar energy crowd, call the team at Puget Sound Solar by dialing 206-706-1931. We’ll develop a plan that’s customized for you and your lifestyle. We’ll show you how the system will look, how much energy it will produce, what equipment options align with the goals of your project before you make any financial commitment. When you decide to go solar, we’ll take care of everything. We order and install all the materials and submit all building and electrical permits so you can sit back and enjoy your clean, renewable electricity for decades to come, knowing we’re here for you.


Remember, You Make The Difference!

About the author

author

Started Puget Sound Solar in 2001 with 30 years of construction contracting experience, and a desire to turn Seattle on to solar energy. Achieving NABCEP certification in 2004, Jeremy believes that our customers often follow a path similar to the one he took, starting out with solar daydreaming, then progressing to education on the subject, and eventually leading to action. In addition to leading the company he also does some teaching and speaking engagements about various aspects of solar energy, and experiments relentlessly with various solar, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle projects.

Jeremy Smithson

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