Should You Install Rooftop Solar Panels? Bringing Solar Installation and Education to Davis

blog-icon-requestsYou’ve probably noticed that more people in Davis and the Sacramento area have been installing solar panels in the last few years. Solar panels are popping up on rooftops all around northern California  sometimes, you’ll see entire neighborhoods with those noticeable blue rectangles on every roof. Solar technology has come a long way in the last 25 years, and it’s become more and more affordable in the process. As a premium solar energy planner and installer, we at Bell Brothers get lots of calls from people asking, “Is solar right for me?” While the answer is always case-by-case, there are some considerations that can help you understand whether solar is a good idea for your home and family.

The Benefits of Solar

The biggest benefit of solar energy is the ability to produce your own power in your own home. There’s pretty much no other legal way to do that, and solar energy is likely the most affordable method, anyway. Let’s face it: you can’t erect a windmill, nuclear reactor, or coal burner in your backyard. But solar panels go on your roof and out of the way, making them a good choice for generating electricity at the home level.

This means that, instead of paying the utility company the same amount you’ve been paying every month, you’ll pay less. Laws are changing regarding how much you’ll pay, but it looks like solar users will reap the benefits of last year’s energy law changes. This is especially true with time-of-use rates going into effect: when everybody else is paying more to use electricity during peak hours, solar users will be reaping the benefits. That also means that in the event of an emergency, blackout, or brownout, solar users might still have power — definitely an added benefit.

Solar energy is also environmentally responsible. Our utility companies are great, don’t get us wrong, but a lot of the power here in the valley comes from hydroelectric dams, fossil fuels, and other arguably destructive sources of power. If that’s something that concerns you, solar energy has the benefits of being safe and environmentally friendly. You know where it’s coming from, and you know it’s sustainable.

When Solar’s Not the Right Choice

Solar is starting to sound like a pretty sweet deal, right? And it can be, but it’s not right for everybody. What’s that? A solar installer telling their clients that they might not need solar? Don’t worry, folks, we haven’t taken leave of our senses — we’re just telling the truth, which is that while solar energy can be a great benefit to many homeowners, it might not be the best way to spend your money.

Let’s consider two hypothetical situations of homeowners interested in solar:

Jane is an eco-conscious homeowner, and her home uses almost no energy. She’s insulated, she uses a heat pump, and her monthly utility bill in summer and winter is less than 50 dollars. Jane thinks that solar might be a good idea — after all, with a bill that low, it’d be easy for solar to make her home net-zero (or even net-positive!) But as exciting as that possibility is, Jane really doesn’t need solar for economic reasons: her bill is already super cheap. If Jane spent thousands of dollars on expensive solar power, it would be decades before she’d make that money back.

Tim is also a homeowner, but his bill’s a lot more than Jane’s, about $300 a month. He figures he’s already spending so much on energy bills, he might as well drop the money on solar to get ahead. But Tim’s house has other improvements that would give a bigger bang for his buck: insulation, window replacement, and duct sealing are all cheaper than solar purchase and installation, and making these upgrades first will make a bigger impact on Tim’s bill. It’s also better for the environment. Instead of producing energy to compensate for his overuse of energy, he’s just reducing the energy he uses in the first place.

The Bottom Line on Solar

Solar isn’t for everybody, but it might be for you. Combined with home upgrades to fully reap solar’s benefits, solar energy can be a great choice for you and your family. The first step is to set up a meeting with a qualified contractor. At Bell Brothers, we’ll come out and assess your home, point out potential issues, and help you figure out if solar is right for you. If we think your money might be better spent on energy-efficiency upgrades first, we’ll show you how and help you secure any necessary funding or rebates.

Once we have a solar game plan, we’ll purchase the panels on your behalf and install them ourselves. We’ll also handle all the paperwork with the utility company, saving you the headache of complicated procedures and tedious document filings. You’ll be able to watch the work happen, ask any questions, and most importantly, reap the benefit of solar energy from your own rooftop.