With summer coming in hot, your interest in a solar solution as an alternative to the energy utilities may be peaking. But is it right for you? Do you qualify? Will you really save? This simple checklist will answer the basic questions and help you decide whether it's time to get a consultation before your summer bills soar.
DO YOU OWN YOUR HOME?
This is important! If you’re a renter stuck with a high energy bill you will need to conserve power, get on a special rate plan with your utility company or negotiate a sweetheart deal with your landlord. If not, your energy bill will likely skyrocket during peak season—or you could just charm your landlord into going solar and have them pass the saving on to you…
IS GOING SOLAR REALLY FREE?
You know all those pay-per-click ads that tell you solar is FREE! You guessed it—that’s a little misleading. Nothing is free, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy significant savings by adding solar to your home. If you pay cash for a complete system you could even see a five year (or less) return on your investment (ROI) and enjoy the benefits of free energy production for the next 25-plus years!
The reality is you’re going to pay more on your electric bill to keep the lights on if you don’t go solar, so solar can be “free savings” in the sense that—if done right—it can be no money down, less than your current energy bill, and much less than your future energy bills. But for that to happen, you MUST avoid three common pitfalls of going solar:
1) Bad planning: Some solar providers may recommend too many solar panels and give you a higher payment than necessary, while many others may recommend too few panels and reduce your electric bill less than expected so that your cost of solar plus your remaining energy bill combined is still high.
2) Escalators: Beware! Many nefarious solar companies build “escalators” into their financing, increasing your payment by a fixed percentage each year so that today’s “great deal” may be tomorrow’s nightmare. That it doesn’t mean it can’t be a fair alternative—but you should be eyes wide open when your making this decision.
3) Degradation: Be sure to avoid doing business with a solar company offering panels that lose efficiency quickly and dramatically. Not all solar panels are created equal – a solar company should be able to clearly explain the technologies, warranties and bankability that separate a panel’s quality and its manufacture.
JUST HOW HIGH IS YOUR AVERAGE ENERGY BILL?
If your average energy bill is $80 or higher, it’s likely that you can save money immediately, and those savings will increase year by year as your utility continues to raise its rates. Considering you’ll always need to pay for power, your net energy cost can stay the same or even decrease.
DO YOU HAVE REASONABLE CREDIT?
Here’s some more good news: All the hype about adding solar with no money out of pocket? It’s completely true, and it’s a big reason why so many of your neighbors are adding solar to their homes these days—the savings are immediate! And no, you don’t have to be Warren Buffet… A credit score of 650 or higher will generally give you a pathway to a no-money-down solar solution and help you protect against the onslaught of summer energy bills and annual rate increases. Those that have less than perfect credit and own their own home—still have some fantastic options available to them.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR TRUE COST OF ENERGY?
We’re going to help you cheat on this one… You don’t know your true cost of energy. Sure, you see your monthly bill, but almost nobody knows what the energy providers are charging per kilowatt hour. Even if you are one of the lucky few who does know, there’s really no way of truly knowing what that cost will be over the next 25 years. With the right solar provider setting you up with an honest solution, on the other hand, your cost of energy is fixed not just month-to-month, but also over the next 20-30 years.
ARE YOU GETTING THE RIGHT SOLAR EVALUATION?
Here’s a shocker: The solar industry in sunny Southern California is hyper competitive. Sadly, that means there are a lot of bad actors looking to set up unsuspecting homeowners with predatory financing plans, ultra-cheap installs or lower efficiency panels from China—possibly all three! Do your homework, check out their reviews, look at their references and installation craftsmanship.