You’ve heard the pitch, “Save thousands of dollars by going solar!”. But is that true for you and how can you get through the hype and determine the truth.

Below are a couple of things to consider when considering going solar:

What are you currently paying for your electricity?

This is probably going to be the most important factor that you will be considering since your goal from installing solar is to lower the cost of powering your home. If you look at your current electric bill, you’ll see that your bill is based on the number of kilowatt-hour (kWh) you use. Costs per kWh can vary greatly based on where you live. Make sure when determining your savings you are using your actual cost per kWh and not calculating your savings based on a generalized article or ‘worksheet’ you’ve found online. Obviously those homeowners with the highest electricity rates will most likely save the most by switching to solar power.

What will a switch to a Solar Panel System Cost to Install?

When considering the solar company you will use for this major investment, going with the lowest bid just because it’s the least out of pocket, may cost you far more in the long run. You must consider both your short term and long term gains when choosing equipment and the company that will design and install your system. Take your time. Meet with multiple companies and don’t be afraid to ask very specific questions about them, their installation team, their warranties, etc.  With all the research and details available online, prepare for your meetings with the companies by creating a list of specific questions you need answers to in order to choose. Take notes. Get all your questions answered. If they are trying to rush through your appointment, rush them out your door!

Don’t be afraid to ask about any incentives or discounts they may currently be offering BUT don’t get pushed into making an immediate decision “or else lose today’s special price”. That’s probably the first company you should cross off your list.  note: Odds are pretty high that if you called them the next week and told them you would like to hire them but at the discounted price, they will say yes.

Speaking of incentives….check in your city, county and state to see if there are any energy incentives and rebates available. These can sometimes reduce your net cost by 50% or more. The federal government offers a 30% solar tax credit (search online for details and ask your tax professional for how you personally could benefit). Hard to believe but true…some utility companies even offer rebates to their customers to encourage their switch to solar power. Check your utility company’s website for details.

Only you can determine if the switch to solar offers you enough benefit to outweigh the initial costs. As in any big decision, due diligence is the key!