Solar panels are one way to make your home more energy efficient, tapping into free and renewable sunlight to create electricity to power your lights and appliances. While the cost of solar panels is a hindrance for some homeowners, installing them can increase the value of your home both while you own it and when you decide to sell it.
When you bought your home, you probably spent time shopping for the best value. Adding solar panels increases your home's value to you while you own it by reducing the cost of your monthly electric bill. Small solar panels that only power a few lights or household appliances have a minimal impact on savings but also cost less to purchase and install. More complete solar panel systems may represent investments of thousands of dollars but will pay for themselves over time, especially if your local utility provider allows you to sell surplus electricity back into the grid when your panels produce more energy than you need.
Improving a home's energy efficiency is one of the best ways to increase its resale value. The SunRun website notes that, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, home values rise an average of $20 for each $1 in yearly energy savings. This means that if you can save $5,000 a year by adding solar panels, you can ask $10,000 more for your home when you list it for sale. In addition, SunRun notes that the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy expects homes with solar panels to sell twice as fast as those without them, cutting down on maintenance, marketing and real estate agent costs when you decide to sell.
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Several factors figure in when it comes to how much solar panels increase the value of your home. One is the home's location. Sunnier climates and lots with high levels of exposure mean that solar panels will produce more, whereas homes in regions that receive fewer sunny days each year will be limited in the amount of energy they save. Home buyers also value discrete panels that blend into modern exterior decor or disappear on rooftops. Obtrusive panels that are installed without regard for their appearance might make buyers less willing to pay more for their presence.
Whatever the cost or actual savings, solar panels represent a significant environmental value. While most major utility providers source some energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind, coal is still a leading source of electrical power. Solar panels reduce the amount of coal-derived electricity homeowners need, saving the carbon emissions that come from burning coal and contributing to improved air quality and reduced mining.
- Solar panels on the roof image by Christophe Fouquin from Fotolia.com