Going solar is easier for homeowners with a few key resources. Here are a couple of tools to help you switch to solar power with less hassle and expense:
1. Tap into Solar Incentives
One of my favorite resources is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE), which lists state rebates and solar power incentive programs, as well as information on federal solar incentives. The site is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. There, you can find information on state, local, utility and federal incentive programs that can help you cut the cost of residential solar panel installations by as much as 60-80% off the retail cost.
2. Determine how Much Grid-Based Electricity You Can Offset with Solar
Here is another tool from the U.S. government that can help you switch to solar power. Part of your analysis will be to determine how much electricity you use at home, and then how much you can offset with solar. The website of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) includes statistics about the amount of electricity the average American home demands. In addition, check out the Energy Department‘s information about considerations to make before going solar.
3. Find the Best Solar Panel Manufacturers
This may be surprising, but you can find the top solar manufacturers in the U.S. on Wikipedia. The site includes a list, put together based on an annual report by Photon Magazine. Additional information on annual solar manufacturer rankings is found at Solar Buzz.
4. Log onto Solar Chat
These days, you can find a chat room on just about any topic! Why not connect with other people that are thinking about going solar, or who have already made the switch? Try the online forum at Solar Panel Talk. You can find people to chat with on DIY solar panels, going off-grid, solar panel leases and purchasing/installing conventional residential solar systems.
5. Use a Solar Price Calculator
Online calculators can help you determine how many solar panels you will need for your energy demands and what a system will cost. There are a number of solar price calculators available and you can find links to many of them at CalFinder.