Seven things to consider about getting a new energy system

Homeowners who install solar power systems can receive a 30 percent tax credit if they do so by Dec. 31, 2019.

“Many folks are interested in going solar,” says Bob Sisco, president and co-owner of Ohio Power Solutions, based in the Madison County town of London.

One reason, he says, is current pricing. According to Andrea Luecke, executive director for The Solar Foundation, a national nonprofit promoting the use of solar technologies, the price of residential solar installations has declined nearly 56 percent since 2010.

“A typical 5-kilowatt residential installation in Ohio costs $18,750, which may seem steep, but is minimal when considering the overall economic incentives,” says Luecke. With the federal tax credit of 30 percent, the average installation cost is reduced to $13,125.

There are additional savings involved, of course. “On average, homes with solar panels cut their electric bill in half, leading to yearly savings of $667,” says Lueke.

“Taking this into account … a typical residential array will see a payback period of only 15 years,” says Luecke.

By early 2016, the 1 millionth American home had a solar power system installed, a milestone 40 years in the making. Still, there are important considerations for homeowners to ponder if they are thinking of going solar. According to Sisco, there are at least seven points to consider:

•The condition of a home's roof is critical to determining its ability to withstand the weight of solar panels. If a roof needs to be replaced, or repaired in certain areas, it is advisable to get it fixed before solar panels are installed.

•The home's location in relation to the sun is important. A shade-free area for the home is ideal, with consistent sun exposure from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

•The roof does not need to be facing south. East-west orientations are also acceptable.

•Use a company that specializes in solar power and employs its own installation crews, rather than subcontractors. This ensures reliability and consistency.

•Be certain to obtain several price estimates. The least expensive may not be trustworthy, while the highest estimate might be price-gouging.

•Be wary of “act now” deals if you receive such promotions or see them on television. They are typically over-priced.

•Many homeowners pay cash for their solar power system. If financing is necessary, it is advisable for a credit worthy customer to obtain financing through his or her bank. In those instances, Sisco assists customers in applying for the Energy Conservation for Ohioans Program's renewable energy loan subsidy, which results in a 3 percent reduction in a bank's interest rate for such loans.

Adding solar power to a home can reap future financial rewards. Not only will a homeowner's energy costs decrease if solar power heats and cools a home, it can also impact the price tag of a home on the market.

There seems to be growing interest in sustainability among those buying homes. Forty-two percent of real estate agents and brokers surveyed last fall by the National Association of Realtors said solar panels increased the perceived property value. Slightly more than half of those surveyed said that consumers are somewhat interested in sustainability and 9 percent are very interested.